It shouldn’t come as a surprise but through three weeks, Bud Dupree and TJ Watt have terrorized quarterbacks more than anyone else on this defense. Based on our defensive charting, here are the Steelers’ pressure leaders after three games.
Bud Dupree: 13
TJ Watt: 12
Stephon Tuitt: 8
Cam Heyward: 5
Mike Hilton: 4
Tyson Alualu: 3
Vince Williams: 2
Devin Bush: 2
Alex Highsmith: 1
Ola Adeniyi: 1
Chris Wormley: 1
That puts Dupree on pace for nearly 70 pressures in 2020. Watt not far behind at 64. Both are unlikely to hit those marks but are on pace to shatter their pressure numbers from a year ago when Dupree had 34 and Watt 45.
Though every offense knows their main goal is to contain Pittsburgh’s pressure, teams have yet to successfully do so. Part of the increased pressure is the decreased rate in coverage as we wrote about yesterday. More than ever, Dupree and Watt are getting to run forward, not peddle backward, allowing them to maximize their pass rush chops.
Elsewhere, it’s impressive to see Tuitt not far behind those two guys. Though some wondered why Tuitt was “quiet” the first two weeks, he had his best game Week 3 and has registered pressures all three games. In six games last season, one where he was the team’s MVP before suffering his pectoral injury, he had 13 pressures. He’s on pace for 16 after six in 2020.
Relatively speaking, Cam Heyward is a little quiet after 35 pressures a year ago. But he’s far from struggled either, proving these numbers aren’t the say-all, end-all. The Steelers’ defense is showing a well-rounded amount of pressure, too. Hilton with four, Alualu with three, Williams with two. Those guys have made their pressures count too, five sacks between their nine pressures. Even rotational guys like Highsmith, Adeniyi, and Wormley have chipped in one.
Over three weeks, Pittsburgh leads the NFL with 15 sacks. That’s two more than the next team, Washington. Meaning, although they have an unfortunate, early bye, they could conceivably still be leading the NFL in that category come Tuesday. They’re also first in pressure by a wider margin, 59 to 46 (and that’s Denver in 2nd place, who played Thursday). It’s the best of both worlds. Pressure and sacks and one heck of a swarming front seven.