Talk about progress in the tackling department.
After recording a combined 20 missed tackles in the Week 3 and Week 4 losses to the Cincinnati Bengals and the Green Bay Packers, the Pittsburgh Steelers were much better overall in the key department on Sunday at Heinz Field in a 27-19 win over the Denver Broncos.
Against a physical running back like Javonte Williams, the Steelers were actually pretty sound overall — give or take a few misses — against the emerging rookie running back, playing a key part in picking up a much-needed win on home turf.
Total missed tackles vs. Broncos — 5
- Joe Schobert — 1
- Minkah Fitzpatrick — 1
- Joe Haden — 1
- Arthur Maulet — 1
- Chris Wormley — 1
Total missed tackles through five games – 41 (8.2 misses per game)
- Joe Haden – 5 (17 tackles on 21 total attempts, 20% miss rate)
- Minkah Fitzpatrick — 4 (38 total tackles on 42 total attempts, 9.5% miss rate)
- Joe Schobert – 4 (34 total tackles on 38 total attempts, 10.5% miss rate)
- Robert Spillane — 4 (two on special teams)(16 total tackles on 20 total attempts, 20% miss rate)
- Melvin Ingram — 3 (10 total tackles on 13 total attempts, 23.1% miss rate)
- Cameron Sutton – 3 (11 total tackles on 14 total attempts, 21.4% miss rate)
- Arthur Maulet — 2 (one on special teams) (11 total tackles on 13 total attempts, 15.3% miss rate)
- Chris Wormley — 2 (11 total tackles on 13 total attempts, 15.3% miss rate)
- Alex Highsmith — 2 (14 total tackles on 16 total attempts, 12.5% miss rate)
- Terrell Edmunds – 2 (28 total tackles on 30 total attempts, 6.6% miss rate)
- Isaiah Buggs – 2 (seven total tackles on nine total attempts, 22% miss rate)
- Devin Bush – 1 (19 tackles on 20 total attempts, 5% miss rate)
- James Pierre – 1 (22 total tackles on 23 total attempts, 4.3% miss rate)
- Tre Norwood — 1 (12 total tackles on 13 total attempts, 7.7% miss rate)
- Jamir Jones — 1 (three total tackles on four total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Miles Killebrew — 1 (special teams) (two total tackles on three total attempt, 33.3% miss rate)
- Henry Mondeaux — 1 (two total tackles on three total attempt, 33.3% miss rate)
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1 (special teams)(one tackle on two total attempts, 50% miss rate)
- Ulysees Gilbert III — 1 (special teams) (two tackles on three total attempts, 33.3% miss rate)
It’s a bit disheartening to see three of your starting defensive backs missing tackles in the same game, but fortunately for the Steelers it didn’t come back to haunt them as Joe Haden, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Arthur Maulet all missed one tackle each against the Broncos.
What’s great news is that of the five defensive starters that missed tackles in the win, not one player for the Steelers recorded multiple misses. That’s a winning formula.
Let’s check out the misses.
Joe Schobert was the first Steelers’ starting defender to miss a tackle in the game, failing to get Javonte Williams on the ground around the line of scrimmage on a run Williams was forced to bounce outside due to T.J. Watt’s inside penetration right at the snap.
Schobert does a great job sliding over to try and get to Williams, but he doesn’t bring his feet with him, allowing Williams to slip out of the arm tackle. From there, Williams takes a big shot from Minkah Fitzpatrick and remains upright. I don’t give a missed tackle to Fitzpatrick here as he’s able to get him on the ground shortly after the collision.
Fitzpatrick was charged with a missed tackle later in the first half on Williams’ 49-yard run to the 1 yard line.
He does a really poor job filling the lane here with force on the pitch outside to Williams, failing to provide support.
With his miss in the lane, it opens up a gaping hole to the end zone for Broncos’ rookie. Steelers’ second-year cornerback James Pierre does an excellent job tracking him down though, saving a touchdown, helping the Steelers’ defense defend blades of grass, holding them to a field goal in the win.
Finally, Williams struck one last time against the Steelers, forcing Joe Haden to miss in the hole, dragging Maulet and linebacker Robert Spillane with him.
Haden has really struggled in these situations as of late, failing to fill the lane properly and getting the running back on the ground. Continuing to miss like this when he’s in the spot to make the play is really hurting the Steelers’ defense as it allows running backs to move the chains in the process.
He has to get better here.
Offensively, the Steelers did a fantastic job forcing the Broncos to miss. In total, the Steelers forced 13 missed tackles, winning the tackles battle with a sterling +8 showing.
Total forced missed tackles vs. Broncos – 13
- Najee Harris — 5
- Kalen Ballage — 2
- Chase Claypool — 2
- Diontae Johnson — 2
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1
- JuJu Smith-Schuster — 1
Total forced misses through five weeks — 59 (11.8 forced misses per game)
- Najee Harris – 31
- Diontae Johnson — 9
- JuJu Smith-Schuster – 8
- Chase Claypool — 4
- Ray-Ray McCloud — 3 (special teams)
- Kalen Ballage — 2
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1
- James Washington — 1
It’s pretty remarkable to see Steelers’ rookie Najee Harris force the same amount of missed tackles on his own that the Steelers’ defense had on the day in total. He remains a special, special running back and is starting to reap the rewards of a rebuilt offensive line that is gelling at the right time, opening up big lanes for him.
Against the Broncos, he showed off his power, his ability to win through contact, and even showed off some seriously impressive footwork to force a missed tackle in the hole.
That’s so awesome to see from Harris, who had Broncos’ cornerback Kyle Fuller guessing.
Kalen Ballage even got into the mix and forced two missed tackles of his own, including this one behind the line of scrimmage against Broncos’ defensive tackle Mike Purcell.
I love to see that from a reserve running back like Ballage, who will have to take advantage of his touches moving forward. Forcing a miss behind the line of scrimmage and picking up two yards on a broken play is a step in the right direction.
Finally, Chase Claypool showed just what he can be as a big slot.
One play after JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game with his season-ending shoulder injury, Claypool got Broncos’ safety Kareem Jackson back for his teammate, dusting the veteran safety in the open field with a mean stiff-arm and some impressive straight line speed.