In recent weeks, the tackling by the Pittsburgh Steelers has been rather dreadful, none worse historically than the performance on Sunday Night Football in Week 6 against the Seattle Seahawks.
If you dare, go back and check out my missed tackles report from the 23-20 overtime win to send the Steelers into the bye. Since it’s Halloween season, I’ll just say this: beware!
With a week off to get healthy, regroup and prepare for the Cleveland Browns, Steelers’ defensive coordinator Keith Butler says the Steelers addressed the tackling issues as best as they could in the bye week and this past week leading up to the Browns’ matchup, even diving into how he teaches tackling in the NFL, which is huge considering his 10-year career with the Seattle Seahawks as one of the most prolific tacklers in the game in that era.
Ahead of the matchup with the Browns, Butler said the Steelers must avoid finding themselves in situations where they need to go for arm tackles, considering how strong and powerful Browns running backs Nick Chubb and D’Earnest Johnson are running the football out of the backfield.
“These guys, the Cleveland Browns, they do a great job of running through what I call arm tackles,” Butler said during his media availability Thursday, according to official audio provided by the team. “They are strong — Chubb especially. He’s got real strong legs and we’re going to have to put bodies on it. We got to get off blocks and put bodies on fundamental stuff to football. And we got to what they do a great job in my opinion, is their offensive line. Collectively [it] is probably as good as we’ve seen in terms of run blocking. And they always get a body on a body and it’s hard to get off of them sometimes. And so you’re left trying to reach for them…reach from them with the arm or something like that. And then they just run right through it. So, we got to get off the bus. We got to get off blocks and put bodies on the ball carriers in order to stop the run. And that’s going to be the key to this game. Everything else is going to develop around that.”
Getting off blocks and avoiding arm tackles is something the Steelers really struggled with against the Seahawks in the third quarter of that Sunday Night Football debacle as Seattle took advantage of a shorthanded Steelers’ defensive line, running away from Cam Heyward while getting hats on linebackers Devin Bush and Joe Schobert at the second level, allowing the zone running scheme to pick up yards by the chunk on the ground.
The Steelers will still be rather shorthanded along the defensive line as Stephon Tuitt remains out, and Carlos Davis was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Henry Mondeaux, Isaiah Buggs, Chris Wormley and Isaiahh Loudermilk will have to be much, much better on Sunday against the run, getting off blocks and playing the run soundly because the Browns will undoubtedly try and run away from Heyward once again, considering what was shown on tape by the Steelers in Week 6 up front.
Play the run better, tackle much better this week and the Steelers should have a real fighting chance against a shorthanded Browns team in a pivotal AFC North matchup.