The Steelers defense has endured some inconsistencies so far in the 2021 season. Injuries to Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, and some shorter-term injuries like T.J. Watt have plagued the defensive side of the ball. As a result, they’ve been unable to form chemistry and generate turnovers.
Through four games, the defense’s three takeaways are tied-for-21st in the NFL. Those certainly aren’t the numbers Steeler fans are accustomed to with this defense, as they ranked third in the league last season in takeaways. DC Keith Butler addressed just what they can do to start creating those turnovers.
”Obviously if you can pressure the quarterback, you can create turnovers,” he said Thursday to the media via a team transcript. “You can make big plays, all that stuff.”
Butler understands the correlation between getting pressure and be able to force turnovers. The Steelers sit middle of the road in the NFL as far as sacks go in 2021, as they’re tied-for-19th with eight sacks.
A large contributor to the lack of sacks has certainly been injuries as aforementioned. Watt seemed to still not be fully healthy against the Packers last week and Alex Highsmith missed a game as well. Tuitt typically helps in the pressure department very well too, so his lack of presence hurts the defense.
The Broncos offensive line allowed 11 quarterback hits and five sacks last week against the Ravens stout defense.
“Always does. Always does,” Butler repeated when asked if those numbers catch his attention. “You want that, I mean you got to have that [pressure].
Although the Broncos offensive line has seen improvements over the past few years, they remain a work-in-progress. They’ve allowed the fifth-most sacks in the NFL through four weeks with 12, while not playing that hard of a schedule. Facing former Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak will certainly be some extra motivation for the defensive front as well. Butler’s emphasis on pressure shows just how much this Steelers team needs takeaways with the limitations of the offense.
“How many sacks did we have on them in that game last year?” Butler asked in knowing how well the front seven did.
The seven sacks the Steelers racked up in Week 2 against the Broncos last season was key in the 26-21 win. Butler clearly remembered that as being the crucial part to them winning that close game at Heinz Field against backup QB Jeff Driskel.