Through five weeks of the 2021 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense has been pretty darn good at taking away the opponent’s top option in the passing game.
In the first five weeks of the season, the Steelers held Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs (nine catches, 69 yards) in check, along with Las Vegas’s Darren Waller (five catches, 65 yards), Green Bay’s Davante Adams (six catches, 64 yards) and Denver’s Noah Fant (three catches, 20 yards), keeping all four out of the end zone in impressive fashion.
That said, the Steelers have focused so much attention on those players individually in an effort to take them away that they’ve allowed role players to have huge days, leading to a pair of losses to Las Vegas and Green Bay that was pretty frustrating overall.
Ahead of the Week 6 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field on Sunday Night football, the Steelers find themselves in a tough spot — in terms of pass coverage – when determining who to take away. Seattle boasts two elite-level wide receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, giving the Seahawks two “ones” according to Steelers’ defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
Knowing that, Butler stated that the Steelers’ defense will have to be careful on Sunday night, even with Seattle star quarterback Russell Wilson missing the game.
“I think they’re both ones. Both of those guys are good players,” Butler said to the media during his Thursday availability, according to the official transcript. “It presents problems for any defense they’re gonna play. We’re gonna try to do the best we can in terms of accentuating the things that we do well and trying to take away the things they do well. There are several different things we can do and several different things we’re gonna try to do when we play them.”
It will be interesting to see what exactly the Steelers try and do against Metcalf and Lockett, considering how dangerous both are in their own right. While the Steelers can try and get creative against Seattle, especially with Wilson out of action, they’ll need to be careful with two guys that are big and can run, according to Butler.
“Shoot. Anytime you’ve got tall guys who can run, it’s always a problem,” Butler said. “You like to see tall corners. We like tall corners. We’ll bring them in at least. But they’ve got to be able to run because these guys can run. We’ve got to be careful in what we do in terms of what we’re playing and trying to keep our guys with a chance to be successful as much as we can. There are a lot of things you can do, but we’re not gonna say and talk about them right now.”
Of course Butler isn’t going to give anything away through the media. It’s curious though that he talks about brining in tall corners, which is what the Steelers did earlier this season with the trade for Ahkello Witherspoon. Could he get a hat on Sunday night, especially against a team he was with throughout the offseason? He was a DNP-Coaches Decision on Sunday, so could that be a mind game with the Seahawks? Or is there something deeper there?
Sunday will tell us a lot.