2020 Steelers Sack Breakdown

With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season over, we’re recapping some of the charting and breakdowns we do on a weekly basis throughout the season. Today, we’re recapping the sacks allowed by the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.

It’s an unusual year given how low the sack totals are. An all-time low number for Pittsburgh, giving up just 14 sacks over the course of the season.

Below is the raw data with our context to follow.

Here is the sack breakdown for the 2020 season. The Steelers did not allow a sack in their Wild Card loss, though that wouldn’t have counted in these numbers. From the regular season only.

Sack Breakdown (Season)

Matt Feiler: 2.5
Chukwuma Okorafor: 2.5
Defensive Scheme: 2
Ben Roethlisberger: 1.5
Zach Banner: 1
Alejandro Villanueva: 1
Maurkice Pouncey: 0.5
Eric Ebron: 0.5
James Conner: 0.5
Kevin Dotson: 0.5
Jaylen Samuels: 0.5
Mason Rudolph: 0.5
JC Hassenauer: 0
David DeCastro: 0

Here are the numbers for the offensive linemen on a per-pass pro snap basis. That helps puts these figures in better context since it’s based on playing time.

Sack Breakdown (Pass Pro Snaps Per Sack Allowed)

Higher the number, the better.

Banner: 35
Feiler: 203.6
Okorafor: 254.4
Dotson: 414
Villanueva: 676
Pouncey: 1048
Hassenauer: ∞ (197 snaps)
DeCastro: ∞ (551 snaps)

Here’s the year-by-year sack breakdown for the offensive line, dating back to 2015.

Lineman 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Alejandro Villanueva 1.0 2.5 4.5 6.0 4.5 5.5
Kevin Dotson 0.5 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Maurkice Pouncey 0.5 0.5 2.5 1.0 0 N/A
David DeCastro 0 1.5 0 1.5 2.0 2.5
Matt Feiler 2.5 3.5 4.0 0 N/A N/A
Zach Banner 1.0 0.5 0 1.0 0 0
Chuks Okorafor 2.5 1.0 1.0 N/A N/A N/A


If you’re curious, here’s Ben Roethlisberger’s yearly sack blame breakdown, too.

2020 – 1.5
2019 – N/A
2018 – 0.5
2017 – 3.5
2016 – 3.5
2015 – 1.5

Couple of conclusions from all this data.

– Obviously, this was a weird year. In one sense, kudos to this pass pro group for holding up so well. Ben Roethlisberger threw over 600 times and was sacked just 13 times, leading the NFL with the lowest/best sack rate. Yes, Roethlisberger’s release time makes a difference but don’t take these numbers for granted.

– But it’s also fair to say many of these players didn’t hold up as well as their numbers suggest. David DeCastro didn’t have a stellar season even if I didn’t charge him for a sack. He looked like he was hurt for a good chunk of the season and really struggled in the Week 17 finale. You could say similar about Maurkice Pouncey though to a lesser degree. Chukwuma Okorafor didn’t feel like a “2.5 sack” player either. He was worse than that number shows.

And Zach Banner got hurt by the small sample size after allowing a sack in the Week One opener and then missing the rest of the year with his torn ACL.

– On the other hand, Alejandro Villanueva with some pretty unbelievable numbers here. I don’t think he was quite as good as this data suggests but we’ve charged him for lots of sacks in the past. Life of a left tackle. His sack numbers have dropped off each of the past three years.

Penalty Breakdown (Season)

Chukwuma Okorafor: 5
JC Hassenauer: 3
Kevin Dotson: 2
Alejandro Villanueva: 2
Matt Feiler: 2
David DeCastro: 2
Maurkice Pouncey: 1

Here’s the yearly breakdown, again since 2015.

Linemen 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Alejandro Villanueva 2 7 5 5 6 1
Kevin Dotson 2 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Maurkice Pouncey 1 4 5 3 2 N/A
David DeCastro 2 3 3 6 11 2
Matt Feiler 2 3 0 0 N/A N/A
JC Hassenauer 3 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Chuks Okorafor 5 1 1 N/A N/A N/A

Penalty info is a little less exciting. Okorafor’s number is high. So is Hassenauer for only playing a couple of games (though one, I believe, was an ineligible man downfield on a failed RPO so not really his fault). Everyone else comes out looking pretty good here. Team didn’t give up a lot of sacks, weren’t penalized too much, although the league did cut down on holding calls this season.

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