For DC Teryl Austin, it’s less about the X’s and O’s and more about the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s. Which is to say, the reason why the Pittsburgh Steelers’ run defense has cratered the last two weeks is less about schematic breakdowns as it is individual and technical ones.
Speaking to reporters Thursday as tweeted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski, Austin outlined the issues.
“The biggest thing with our defense is a lot of times you can chalk it up to scheme,” Austin said as shared by Adamski. “But really a lot of times it’s just hitting guys, getting their hands off, getting off blocks, and making tackles. And we didn’t do that enough the last two weeks.”
Over their last six quarters, the Steelers have given up 333 yards rushing. Torn up in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons and consistently run over in Sunday’s loss to Baltimore, the Ravens ending with 215 yards and three runs to close out their victory.
Austin is certainly correct that the Steelers simply weren’t the more physical team and their front seven was dominated by the Ravens’ o-line, tight ends, and fullback. As Josh Carney noted in his report, missed tackles weren’t a problem, just two the entire game. But it’s hard to miss tackles when you can’t get off blocks to make them in the first place and that was the root of the issue in the game.
Still, there were some schematic problems in the game. Baltimore consistently running away from Pittsburgh’s strength while they walked out their tight ends to displace the Steelers’ EDGE rushers and remove them from the run fit. All issues we covered in our recent video breakdown.
Pittsburgh will again be challenged this weekend against the Carolina Panthers. Under interim head coach Steve Wilks, the team has found traction and is one of the heaviest running teams in the NFL. Like Baltimore, they put up over 200 yards in their Week 14 against the Seattle Seahawks and they’re an offense that will employ up to eight offensive linemen on the field at once. Look for a full breakdown on the Panthers’ offense and defense tomorrow morning on the site.
The Steelers will try to bounce back without the services of veteran DL Chris Wormley, out for the year with a torn ACL. Austin told Adamski and the other reporters it’ll be a combination of DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, and newly signed Jonathan Marshall to replace him. He also mentioned Carlos Davis, who remains on the practice squad, so we’ll have to see if he’s elevated to the 53 at any point before the season is over.