On the road facing a pivotal game against the Green Bay Packers so early in the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw a number of key defensive pieces return to the lineup, including star linebacker T.J. Watt and second-year pass rusher Alex Highsmith.
The return of the two top defenders didn’t quite help in the tackling department and against the run overall as everyone expected as the Steelers matched their missed tackles number from Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders, and allowed the Packers to run the football at will on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau field.
Two key special teams contributors also missed tackles in the loss, while a veteran defensive back struggled to get guys on the ground in space, resulting in another tough showing for a defense that is asked to do far too much to try and help this team win football games at the moment.
Let’s dive into the missed tackles report and move on to the Denver Broncos’ matchup in Week 5.
Here we go.
Total missed tackles at Packers — 11
- Alex Highsmith – 2
- Melvin Ingram — 2
- Joe Haden — 2
- Isaiah Buggs — 1
- Cameron Sutton — 1
- Joe Schobert — 1
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1 (special teams)
- Ulysees Gilbert III — 1 (special teams)
Total missed tackles through four games – 36 (9.0 misses per game)
- Robert Spillane — 4 (two on special teams)(12 total tackles on 16 total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Joe Haden – 4 (12 tackles on 16 total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Melvin Ingram — 3 (nine total tackles on 12 total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Minkah Fitzpatrick — 3 (20 total tackles on 23 total attempts, 13% miss rate)
- Cameron Sutton – 3 (11 total tackles on 14 total attempts, 21.4% miss rate)
- Joe Schobert – 3 (28 total tackles on 31 total attempts, 9.6% miss rate)
- Alex Highsmith — 2 (13 total tackles on 15 total attempts, 13.3% miss rate)
- Terrell Edmunds – 2 (16 total tackles on 18 total attempts, 11.1% miss rate)
- Isaiah Buggs – 2 (six total tackles on eight total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Devin Bush – 1 (12 tackles on 13 total attempts, 7.7% miss rate)
- James Pierre – 1 (15 total tackles on 16 total attempts, 6.25% miss rate)
- Tre Norwood — 1 (10 total tackles on 11 total attempts, 9.1% miss rate)
- Arthur Maulet — 1 (special teams) (six total tackles on seven total attempts, 14.3% miss rate)
- Chris Wormley — 1 (six total tackles on seven total attempts, 14.3% miss rate)
- Jamir Jones — 1 (three total tackles on four total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Miles Killebrew — 1 (special teams) (zero total tackles on one total attempt, 100% miss rate)
- Henry Mondeaux — 1 (zero total tackles on one total attempt, 100% miss rate)
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1 (special teams)(zero tackles on one total attempt, 100% miss rate)
- Ulysees Gilbert III — 1 (special teams) (one tackle on two total attempts, 50% miss rate)
Make it two straight weeks that veteran cornerback Joe Haden has made it into the missed tackles report, and two straight weeks in which he’s looked rather poor in run support overall on the boundary, allowing his misses to go for first downs, extending drives for the opponent.
The veteran cornerback certainly isn’t what he once was from a coverage standpoint, and is really beginning to struggle from a support and tackling perspective, becoming a bit of a weakness on the field for the Steelers against the run.
While I understand his missed tackles against the run have come against Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon and Green Bay’s AJ Dillon in consecutive weeks, he needs to be making these plays. He’s done that his entire career, but now he’s coming up a bit short.
I really like that Haden is able to stay slide over into the hole after cross the field with the motion receiver, sticking his left foot into the ground to plant and square up in the hole against Dillon, but he has to have better technique here. At the very least, he has to wrap up and hold on for dear life in hopes of some support coming to his aid.
Instead, Dillon easily steps through his low tackle attempt and barrels for a first down near midfield.
Early in the third, with the Packers driving, Isaiah Buggs recorded his missed tackle on the day while playing heavy snaps against the run for the Steelers. Buggs often finds himself in the backfield against the run; he’s simply not finishing, which is a quick way to find yourself on the bench down the stretch.
Later in the third quarter, Haden recorded his second miss of the game, this time on Packers’ star receiver Davante Adams on a quick throw to the right flat from Aaron Rodgers.
Watch the footwork by Adams, and watch how Haden just guesses and whiffs horribly, allowing Adams to pick up a first down he had no business even getting close to on that short throw.
Offensively, the Steelers had a strong day overall forcing misses from the Packers, specifically rookie running back Najee Harris. As a unit, the Steelers forced an impressive 12 missed tackles by the Packers on Sunday, winning the tackle battle by a margin of +1.
Total forced misses at Packers — 12
- Najee Harris — 7
- Diontae Johnson — 3
- James Washington — 1
- Ray-Ray McCloud — 1 (special teams)
Total forced misses through four weeks — 46 (11.5 forced misses per game)
- Najee Harris – 26
- JuJu Smith-Schuster – 7
- Diontae Johnson — 7
- Ray-Ray McCloud — 3 (special teams)
- Chase Claypool — 2
- James Washington — 1
Harris continues to be a one-man wrecking crew, making something out of nothing on seemingly every single touch. He’s hard to tackle one on one, and he cannot be hemmed in along the sideline either, thanks to his power.
This was a phenomenal rep three plays after the Packers kicked a field goal to go up 20-10. Harris takes another swing route out of the backfield and instantly finds himself with defenders closing in as soon as he catches the ball.
I’d like to see a much better effort here from receiver Cody White while blocking, but Harris is able to make the first defender miss and then powers through a crowd to move the chains on a play in which it appeared he wouldn’t even come close. He’s a special player.
Earlier in the game, James Washington got on the board with his first forced miss of the season.
Washington did a great job setting up the defensive back here on the stop route, planting and turning back inside to move the chains on the big catch-and-run for the Steelers, providing some spark offensively.
That was very reminiscent to his touchdown against the Washington Football Team in 2020 at Heinz Field.