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What does this Defense need to be great?

Discussion in 'Steelers Talk' started by Steelresolve, Jun 18, 2022.

  1. Steelresolve

    Steelresolve Well-Known Member

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    1. Do we have the players to field a dominant defense?

    2. Do you like our defensive system?

    3. Do we value the correct positions on defense?

    4. How close are we to be a dominating defense?


    My answers to those questions:

    1. Do we have the players to field a dominant defense?

    I don’t think we do quite yet. Had Stephon Tuitt come back I think we would have been a lot closer. Starting with the defensive line. We have one player whom is a person of pedigree right now and he is 33 years old. We have a lot of depth but I believe we are another year away of developing Loudermilk and Leal and drafting or signing a top tier DE/DT to man Tuitts spot. We were last against the run last year. I don’t see us being elite against the run until we get some more pedigree on the defensive line. I like Alualu but he is coming off an injury, he is 35 years old and honestly he played only one year at the NT position for us. There are a lot of question marks with the defensive line.

    The linebackers also have a lot of question marks. TJ Watt is obviously the best at his position. Highsmith is developing and I believe he will be even better this year. The question marks are the inside linebackers. Is Jerry O the right Coach to develop and get the most out of these guys? Will Bush get back on track and reach his potential? If he does how do we resign him? Will Jack be like he was a few years ago or is he in the downward cycle of his career? What about the depth? Do any of the depth middle linebackers have the potential or will they only ever be special teams players? I feel like we have had a lot of depth here over the years but we never develop them. Is that a knock on the coaching or are we not drafting wisely? Will the inside linebackers simply improve with better defensive line play and coaching from Flores?

    The secondary has question marks but to me it also has an opportunity for the biggest improvement. Witherspoon I feel like never quite had the opportunity that he has had now with the Steelers. If he can play with confidence I feel like he can develop into a #1 CB for us. Levi Wallace is a solid CB who is sound in both coverage and against the run. Sutton is solid but not as good as Hilton especially against the run. If we can stay healthy at CB I feel like we have a chance to field a solid a group. The Safety position is essentially unchanged with the addition of experienced depth with Kazee and Norwood have a year under his belt. I feel like if the Defensive line improves and the MLB’s improve at run defense it will allow Minkah to play the pass more effectively allowing him to get back to the way he performed two years ago. The biggest add for the defensive backfield this year will be the added experience in nickel and dime and three safety looks. With Kazee playing straight up FS or a hybrid and Norwood playing the Slot it will allow us to additional things in coverage with Sutton and Minkah.

    2. Do you like our defensive system?

    I like our defensive system, however I do feel like we give up a little from a gap integrity perspective with the traditional 2 DT in the Nickel or Dime vs. the old 3-4 Defensive alignment we used to run more often. I also believe that because it is such a pass oriented league we value the penetrating and quick defensive lineman as opposed to the big NT’s that tied up blockers. With that being said this type of defense puts a tremendous strain on the ILB’s. They have to be fast enough for coverage duties and strong enough and big enough to take on guards and centers to stuff the run. Those types of players are very hard to find. We thought we had that in Busch but I guess this season we will truly find out. I really believe we should have drafted a true thumper for the middle. I don’t believe Jack is a Thumper. If we can keep Jack and Busch clean then they can survive but our defensive line isn’t really asked to keep the ILB’s clean by maintaining blockers. Our Defensive lineman are asked to penetrate a gap. I Wish we mixed this up a little more and got some bigger bodies on the field more often if we are going to focus on having two ultra athletic inside linebackers. To me having a Wormley at DT and Busch at ILB right behind him is just inviting the offense to run right at that side of the defense.

    3. Do we value the correct positions on defense?

    Well it is obvious we value Edge Rusher, Linebacker, Safety and DE/DT the most. Some teams are all about CB, DT/NT like Baltimore. I don’t mind the positions we value, I just wish we would value NT a little more or at least try to get a Derron Payne or something. If Winterspoon proves to only be a #2 CB then we have to go out and get a tru #1 CB next year in free agency. A shut down CB with our pass rush and Minkah at FS will put this defense in the elite category provided we fill the Tuitt position adequately.

    4. How close are we to being a dominate defense.

    This one is simple. Busch reaches his potential. Watt and Heyward remain healthy and at the same level for the next three years. Witherspoon develops into a #1 CB and we fill Tuitts old spot with another great player. Obviously I doubt all of this happens. But If Jack can perform consistently to what he did a couple years ago in Jackonsville. We draft a stud at MLB to replace Busch next year. We go out and use the cap space to get a true #1 CB next in free agency and we pick up a comparable SS next year to complement Minkah. Finally with some luck Loudermilk or Leal reaches their ceiling next year ... then I think we will have a chance at being elite. For this to all happen we are gong to need some of these players to develop wether it be the CB’s or the young Defensive Lineman because we aren’t gong to be able to fill all of this expositions next year through free agency and the draft alone. The clearest route to me is if our CB’s that we have now pan out it will allow us to spend the money next year within the draft and free agency to solidify the defensive line and MLB.

    I feel like the next few years team building wise will be all about building up the lines on both sides of the ball. This is the speciality of the VP guy we got from Philadelphia this year who is second in command behind Khan.
     
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  2. SteelerJJ

    SteelerJJ Well-Known Member

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    An offense that doesn't go 3 and out consistently would help the defense a lot.
     
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  3. bradshaw12

    bradshaw12 Well-Known Member

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    Above average play from the corners, and Fitzpatrick and Watt playing up to their outrageous contracts, if that is possible.
     
  4. Brice

    Brice Well-Known Member

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    I am waiting for Kahn to step up and make a trade to bring in a DL or CB before the season starts.

    Last year they were playing way too many sets with only two linemen. Bush is not a middle linebacker that can shed 300lb offensive linemen to make the tackle.
     
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  5. Steelresolve

    Steelresolve Well-Known Member

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    I have been saying that all along. If they want to run those kind of sets then why not get a true thumper in the middle. I would have loved for them to have drafted Leo Chenal 6’3” 260 runs a 4.5 40. The guy is a freak and we missed out. KC got a steal in the third round.
     
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  6. MeanJoeBlue

    MeanJoeBlue Well-Known Member

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    The Steelers were the #5 defense (by points and yards) in 2019 and #3 in 2020.
    They are a lot closer to being a dominate defense than last year's disaster would indicate.

    If you think that Steelers can afford a "true #1 CB in free agency" and a top safety as well, you are seriously underestimating how much the top players are being paid.
    As monstrous as Watt's and Fitzpatrick's contracts are, that is the market rate for the type of players you are suggesting.
     
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  7. mac daddyo

    mac daddyo Well-Known Member

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  8. Formerscribe

    Formerscribe Well-Known Member

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    The 2019 defense had Dupree's breakout year. They still had Hargrave at defensive tackle and Haden was still a quality cornerback.

    The 2020 defense had Tuitt actually staying healthy and playing the best ball of his career. They still had Haden much of the time. They also had the best combination of edge rushers in the game with Dupree opposite Watt, at least until Dupree blew out his knee.

    I like Highsmith, but he still isn't close to what Dupree was before the injury. Haden is gone. Tuitt is gone.

    My point being that some huge parts of those defenses are gone.
     
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  9. Fe3CCity

    Fe3CCity Well-Known Member

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    Dude fukng bang up write up. Awesome post!

    I agree with a lot of this but for question 1 there is a single hole that keeps this D from being regarded and assuming "the best." Unfortunately, it's the tuitt problem. With him we are top 3 easy. I love alualu and think the run D won't be, baring injuryz what it was last year. I do think we'll field a mid pack run D, at best 10.
    To some other comments, I think the pass D will "look better" because this team will be playing small ball, tight games, and no shoot outs.

    Highsmith setting of the edge was his biggest improvement from year 1 to 2. Guys it was DRAMATIC. I think overall they are in a good spot.

    2. Scheme
    I love the scheme becuase of Tomlin and Flores but I worried about our man up ability.
    I think a lot of the scheme may be very iso based and for our CBs, and only our CBs I have my concerns. But! What is the best defense for shaky corners? A pass rush and we have the best in TJ. Additionally, I think we will see a drop from TJ this year, 13-16 sacks. I don't think butler had been given his credit on his rush scheme.
    In short, love it if we had the right CBs. We may but it's a ?

    3. Position value.
    Edge ILB CB S
    You need 4 studs on D to be great. Picture it at each level of defense. We have 3 but let's hope levi Wallace is what PFF says he is (I think 8th best ).

    4. How close
    A surprise training camp or monster value pick in the draft.
    Im not as down on Bush as some, granted I'm not high on him either. I look at it as known commodities. Generally, we know what the returning starters can and will do but I'd point back to question 1.



    To your points -
    I think too much is made of our ILB troubles. It's not great but there are other problems. Last year we had big man problems. Henry monduaex ( def spelled wrong ) started....
    Again, to my point 1 question I'm really hoping for loudermilk, leal, and company to be something.

    To the kazee addition, it's a guy who find the ball. I don't think he's end all but this team will be TO dependant.
    If we don't win TO we will lose, hard stop.

    3. Witherspoon is a 2 and I think is better in zone. I don't think he has "it" to be 1. He'll be here for a bit and bounce around the league....again.

    4. Showing my bias but its not based on Bush every great ILB has a great Dline in front, someone please correct me. Side note love that your autocorrect seems to change bush to Busch.
    It is and always will be a big man game. We can talk about the pass happy league but no team, for the foreseeable future is winning throwing the ball all the time, or even 75% the time. It's really hard to get a first down when I know you have to throw for 9 of them.
    A Throwing teams best out?The frustrating Ben to WR fade on 3rd and 4 that was made famous with AB.
    That connection worked sometimes and it's all about odds.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2022
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  10. DJ18Baller

    DJ18Baller Well-Known Member

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    Not get absolutely gouged on the ground. Run defense has been a major issue with Tuitt quitting and Alulu hurt.
     
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  11. nor

    nor Well-Known Member

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    Shazier and Tuitt would have helped.
     
  12. Wardismvp

    Wardismvp Well-Known Member

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    Competent ILB and SS play. DL rotation and creating turnovers.
     
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  13. Steelresolve

    Steelresolve Well-Known Member

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    How are the Rams paying for the #1 Defensive player in Donald and a top tier CB? Plus a franchise QB to boot. The Steelers can definitely find a way to pay top tier CB. The Ravens have two top tier CB’s and paid a boat load to a free agent Safety this year.
     
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  14. Steelresolve

    Steelresolve Well-Known Member

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    That top 5 defensive line ranking is based on including our edge players. The defense this season rides on a ton of unknowns:
    1. Alualu’s health
    2. Bush rebounding
    3. Jack performing to the way he played two years ago
    4. CB’s playing up to their potential
    5. Development of Loudermilk

    A lot has to happen with a little bit of luck for us to see success.
     
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  15. Steelresolve

    Steelresolve Well-Known Member

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    In hindsight choosing Tuitt over Hargrove was a big mistake.
     
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  16. Blast Furnace

    Blast Furnace Staff Member Mod Team

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    This. Pointed this out many times that the Steelers had a lot of games where the defense gave up fewer than 20 points including less than 16 points several times.

    They just had a major flaw which was the run defense.
     
  17. jeh1856

    jeh1856 That was my bed

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    The last half of Hargrave’s last season here teams ran straight at him because he was east to push back

    He was let go because he wasn’t good not because they kept Tuitt
     
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  18. MeanJoeBlue

    MeanJoeBlue Well-Known Member

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    Would you say, in hindsight, drafting Shazier was a mistake because of he was on the team for less than 5 years?
     
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  19. HeinzMustard

    HeinzMustard Well-Known Member

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    Casey Hampton caliber NT. James Farrior caliber ILB and Troy Polamalu caliber SS.
     
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  20. DJ18Baller

    DJ18Baller Well-Known Member

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    We are just slightly off then :lolol:
     
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  21. steelersrule6

    steelersrule6 Well-Known Member

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    The Ravens aren't paying a QB franchise money yet, and no big money to the RBs and WRs.
     
  22. Steelresolve

    Steelresolve Well-Known Member

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    Neither are we.
     
  23. Steelresolve

    Steelresolve Well-Known Member

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    no just bad luck
     
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  24. AskQuestionsLater

    AskQuestionsLater Writing Team

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    How to get back towards being a great defense?! Sounds difficult at first but the answer is actually more simple than just having the right personnel and scheme. Granted, both are pre requisites for a great defense but there is one major overlooked and undervalued principle when discussing great NFL Defenses; fundamentals.


    Simple aspects such as communication, discipline and most of all, execution of the scheme overall are core values that will never change; no matter what era it is. For that matter, having a great, if not exceptional understanding of the fundamentals is what separates good teams from great teams and never mind great defenses. As I stated before and will again, should Teryl Austin be able to work out the miscommunication shortcomings and the discipline of the plays being called, the execution can work itself out as successful repetition can create a positive habit for the entire unit; the ability to repeat such being more common than without.



    Now and, keywords here, as it stands, I believe much of the personnel is in place for this to be a great defense. How this defense handles the finite yet crucial components though?! That is another matter all together. Time will tell for certain.
     
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  25. Blast Furnace

    Blast Furnace Staff Member Mod Team

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    You’re deep into retirement drunk.

    Hargrave was very good, he wasn’t kept because he cost too much to do so.
     
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