On Tuesday, HC Mike Tomlin spoke to the media in his weekly press conference where he talked about the events of last Thursday’s loss on the road to the New England Patriots and previewed the team’s upcoming Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets.
Prior to the press conference, the Steelers posted an updated depth chart that had NT Montravius Adams in front of Tyson Alualu as the starter prior to the team’s matchup with the Jets. When asked about what went into that change to have Adams displace Alualu as the starter, Tomlin kept his answer brief.
“You know, [Adams] has been playing better than Tyson [Alualu], and so, we just thought that was appropriate,” Tomlin said to the media Tuesday which aired live from the team’s YouTube channel.
When you look at the raw numbers, Tomlin’s assessment holds true regarding his nose tackles. Alualu has graded out with a poor 40.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus three games into the season and has been allowing 5.0 YPC when on the field according to Steelers Depot’s own Alex Kozora. On the other hand, Adams carries a 63.6 overall grade from PFF and has played much better against the run than his teammate, yielding only 2.6 YPC when he is on the field.
Alualu has played significantly more snaps than Adams to this point (104 to 31), but the grizzled veteran appears to be slowing down in terms of on-field performance after finding the fountain of youth when he arrived in Pittsburgh, becoming one of the league’s best interior run defenders. Adams jumped onto the moving train last season, getting signed off the New Orleans Saints practice squad and filled in for Alualu who missed the 2021 season with a ankle fracture and flashed on the interior thanks to his disruptive nature as a penetrator along with his high effort in pursuit of the football.
With the Steelers coming off a game where Cleveland gashed them on the ground, Tomlin and the rest of the coaching staff appeared to have made changes to improve a run defense that has struggled since last season as did so in the middle at nose tackle. This move may spell the end for Alualu’s time in Pittsburgh after the 2022 season and give Adams a chance to audition to be Pittsburgh’s starting NT moving forward should he impress in and increased role.