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2022 South Side Questions: Has Teryl Austin ‘Fixed’ The Run Defense Issues From End Of Patriots Loss?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Has Teryl Austin and the coaching staff installed the necessary fixes to correct the issues we saw in the run game in the fourth quarter on Sunday?

The Steelers’ defense gave up over 50 rushing yards on the Patriots’ final drive of the game. While they were not picking up large chunks at a time, they were consistently winning on nearly every rep as a unit, and as such were able to matriculate the ball down the field and drain the clock.

Pittsburgh’s offense ran a total of seven plays in the quarter—the first play, on which they scored a touchdown to end their only extended drive of the second half, and two subsequent three and outs. The Patriots controlled possession for more than 12 minutes, including the final six and a half minutes.

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was asked about what went wrong with the run defense at the end of the game, and he acknowledged that there was a scheme component to it, but ensured that they have looked at the tape and identified the issues and said that he thinks it’ll be fixed if they face that situation again.

Well, the NFL is a copycat league, and good teams will replicate what worked against you previously until you can prove that you can stop it. The Browns are arguably the best rushing team in the entire league, so you can bet that they will take every advantage they can get—and really, they already do some similar things to what New England shows.

Perhaps the most underrated aspect of coaching is adjustments. No matter what you teach, you’re always going to have to change and adapt. If something isn’t working, for whatever reason, including because your opponent exposed your tendency, then you need to be able to install tendency breakers or use other means to reduce your predictability. He’s had a short week, but it shouldn’t take long to make minor tweaks to how to respond to offensive audibles, so it will be telling how tonight plays out.

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