It is virtually impossible to play a ‘perfect’ game from a fundamental standpoint over 60 minutes, free from errors, let alone free from missed tackles. The players on the other side of the ball are highly-paid and highly-conditioned and know how to break tackles, so you have to expect that they’re going to break a few no matter what steps you take to minimize them.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, however, had too many broken tackles allowed against them lately, particularly on Thursday night facing the Cleveland Browns and their very talented pair of running backs, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. So what must they do to improve in this area?
“It’s all about gang tackling, everybody running to the ball, wrapping up”, veteran safety Terrell Edmunds said, via the team’s YouTube channel, from the locker room yesterday. “We knew that about Chubb. He’s a dynamic back, and we knew that we had to try our best to limit him. He got a lot of yards after contact. We’ve just got to gang tackle, everybody run to the ball”.
According to Pro Football Focus, Chubb recorded seven missed tackles forced in the run game, with Hunt adding another. Hunt was credited with another two missed tackles forced on receptions, while David Njoku was also credited with two on receptions. That’s a total of 12 missed tackles forced as a team by the Browns—meaning that the Steelers missed 12 tackles.
Edmunds himself was charged with two of those misses, Ahkello Witherspoon and Myles Jack also receiving two (though for Jack, the middle linebacker is such a high-volume spot that those are occasionally going to come with the territory). Minkah Fitzpatrick, Malik Reed, Alex Highsmith, Devin Bush, Arthur Maulet, and Tyson Alualu also were all charged with one missed tackle, so it was a true group effort.
But as Edmunds said, the key to playing missed tackles is to have somebody next to make the tackle. The Steelers didn’t have that often enough, which led to Chubb having more than 100 rushing yards after contact during the game.
“Everybody just flying to the ball” is the key, the safety said. “Missed tackles happen in the game, but you’ve got to have your other teammates right there backing you up, having your back on the field, so we’ve all just got to go out there and make plays together”.
One of the surest steps toward having secondary defenders nearby to finish off plays is to make sure that those players are getting off their blocks so that they can be free to move to the ball, and that is another area that this group collectively needs to work on. No doubt it will be a focus during this short break as they prepare for their next opponent.