The Pittsburgh Steelers’ front seven stands unquestionably as the greatest strength of their entire roster, and that strength right now is particularly concentrated on the edge, with their top three outside linebackers boasting the potential to be arguably the best set of edge rushers in the entire league.
While led by T.J. Watt’s two sacks, the trio of himself, Alex Highsmith, and Melvin Ingram were dominant playing against a quality Buffalo Bills offensive line, on the road, with Dion Dawkins and Daryl Williams considered an above-average set of starting tackles.
The group made both of them look bad, and part of their strength is that very depth, as all three of them are able to feed off of one another and provide breaks for the others to ensure that, whenever any of them are on the field, they are able to play at full speed.
“I think it makes it effective because we’re all fresh and we’re all coming in providing quality rushes”, Highsmith told reporters yesterday about what makes their three-man edge rotation so effective. “Just like T.J. said the other day, I really feel like this trio is gonna be special. The fact that all three of us can come in and produce like we do is gonna be special”.
Watt had the most conventionally impressive stat line, but all three of them were a nuisance to this Bills offensive line. Highsmith in particular impressed with respect to the improvements in his craft that he has made since last season, most especially his ability to get off the line of scrimmage in a hurry, and his speed-to-power move as a rusher.
Ingram, a veteran free agent signing who was added shortly before training camp began, has been very much as advertised, and frankly, the only reason that he didn’t have at least one or two sacks during the game was that the Bills were holding him. In fact, all three of them drew at least one holding call.
Of course, it can’t go unmentioned that the interior pressure supplied by Cameron Heyward really helps to make their edge pressure all the more effective. When you have to put two bodies on one interior rusher, or when that rusher is able to force your quarterback off his spot, it changes the rush angles, and the ones who have their eyes in the backfield at that point have the advantage.
Highsmith also should be commended for his high level of play despite tweaking his groin last week. He is fortunately not on the injury report this week, or at least he wasn’t yesterday, so hopefully that’s a sign that this will not be a lingering issue.