Steelers News

Keith Butler Says Run Defense Struggle ‘Wasn’t Exactly The Dadgum Inside Linebackers’ Fault’

While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ run defense has been for the most part solid so far this season—notable given that they are without two of their starters along the front line—new concerns were raised with the way that the Seattle Seahawks, without their starting running back, were able to move the ball on the ground against them in the second half.

In particular, running back Alex Collins simply dominated the Steelers’ front seven on the opening drive of the second half, Pittsburgh coming into the final 30 minutes with a 14-point lead. 10 plays, 72 yards, and six first downs later, they were in the end zone. And then again on their second possession of the half, nullifying the Steelers’ lead.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked about how his inside linebackers played against the run during that game, and whether or not they were responsible for that showing. “Sometimes they were, but sometimes the front wasn’t in the right place too. It wasn’t just them”, he said, via transcript.

“There are some things we need to shore up and make sure we can play in certain situations. They ran up the middle on us a couple times”, he continued. “That wasn’t exactly the dadgum inside linebackers’ fault, or both of them. We have to be a little bit better in terms of what we’re doing there. Not just the inside linebackers, but the defensive line and the way we coordinate the secondary and stuff like that”.

Not only has starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt been on the Reserve/Injured List all season; not only did nose tackle Tyson Alualu join him a week later; but the Steelers have also been playing without Carlos Davis, the promising rookie from a year ago. What’s more, Isaiah Buggs, who replaced Alualu at nose tackle, also went down with an injury during the game.

The Steelers were down to just Henry Mondeaux and Isaiahh Loudermilk at that point backing up Cameron Heyward and Chris Wormley, which, needless to say, leaves a little something to be desired in the way of depth.

The hope is that they can get this group healthy on the other side of the bye. Davis finally started practicing again last week, so there should be optimism about him being back. The nature of Buggs’ injury hasn’t been commented on, but it didn’t appear overly serious.

We still don’t have an update on Tuitt, and head coach Mike Tomlin seems to enjoy the opportunity to not provide updates about things he’s not required to divulge. Until he starts officially practicing and opening his 21-day activation window, we’re probably not going to know much more.

Not that any of this absolves Devin Bush and Joe Schobert and Robert Spillane of any culpability for their own struggles against the run, particularly Bush. Can they reset and rewrite the script after the bye?

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