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What has lead to the decline in run defense

Discussion in 'Football Talk With Other Fans' started by PatrickPatriot, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. PatrickPatriot

    PatrickPatriot New Member

    Dec 14, 2017
    I'm a pats fan, just curious as to what has lead to the lack in run defense on your guys part lately? Is it all after Ryan Shazier went down? Or are other injuries causing this as well? Last 2 weeks the YPC is much higher than usual for this defense. I was honestly more worried about this defense 2 weeks ago.
  2. bigbenhotness

    bigbenhotness Well-Known Member

    Nov 1, 2014
    run defense has sucked all year, but yeah losing Shaz now it's even worse.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. SteelinOhio


    Oct 16, 2011
    Shazier being out is definitely a massive hit. Backups are not at the same level.
  4. Wardismvp

    Wardismvp Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2011
    Players don't want to tackle properly. For that matter tackle at all.
  5. strummerfan

    strummerfan Well-Known Member

    May 9, 2012

  6. GtownNCSteeler

    GtownNCSteeler New Member

    Jan 14, 2018
    I believe you decline in the defense period. They keep getting burned on the long ball. And they say Tomlin is a defensive minded coach!?!? Guess they meant he doesn’t mind getting burnt cause this Dfence sux again. We look like the wawawawaterboy!
  7. AskQuestionsLater

    AskQuestionsLater Writing Team

    Apr 21, 2016

    The answer is not one to explain so simply I am afraid. However, there are a number of flashpoints that can lead us there. Allow me to explain.

    1.) December 4th, 2017; In Memory of Ryan Shazier. The Search for the "Next One" Continues:

    I am really not going to analyze this too much in terms of what happened this day as the story itself is well documented. What is not nearly as told though, is the aftermath which still affects the team to this day. After December 4th's conclusion, the Steelers ended up giving more and more Rushing Yards on the ground. By the time Jacksonville came into Pittsburgh for the rematch..... Shazier's loss was very, HILARIOUSLY, evident. Since that day, the Steelers FO have attempted time after time to find their replacement for Shazier. In 2018...., the initial plan was to draft RaShaan Evans as there were reports by multiple members of Pittsburgh Media that the team was attempting to trade up for him. Sadly, this did not happen as the teams above the Steelers; namely the Detroit Lions, wanted more for what the Steelers were willing to offer. As such, Terrell Edmunds was the selection as the team did have a need for the Strong Safety position heading into that season. However...... Edmunds impact was very little.... and still is to this day. In 2019.... the team then elected to not wait and instead trade up for a Linebacker in the mold of Devin Bush Jr.; son of Devin Bush Sr and the God son of one Derrick Brooks. To say his start of his career was promising is an understatement as 2019 saw him play his best football. Now.. heading into 2020, Bush Jr was initially getting better as he picked up right where he left off in 2019... but he tore his ACL on October 18th, 2020 and was lost for the season. Entering 2021, some believed (myself included) that while the ACL Injury would take time to heal on its own, the mental aspect of returning from such an injury was a talking point that not too many people among Steelers fans made leading up to Steelers Training Camp. Per Aditi of NFL Network and Brooke Pryor of ESPN, Devin Bush showed signs of his old self athletically on the field; something that surprised me a bit given the recovery time of such an injury. My concerns though still lay within the mental aspect and whether or not his overall aggression would be affected. Sadly, that answer has been a resounding yes; Devin Bush being either the biggest overall disappointment of the 2021 Steelers Season or arguably as Chase Claypool is a very close second. The team attempted to even give Bush and the Linebacking Corps a boost in Joe Schobert; someone who I had high hopes on when he arrived. Sadly.... that also has not turned out well. If anything, both Bush and Schobert have been lackluster together for the season; both disappointments overall. However, the loss of one player is far from the reason as to why the Run Defense is not what it used to be; a good transition for point number two.

    2.) M.I.A.; Cameron Heyward & the Lost Lineman:

    After the retirement of Brett Keisel in 2015, Pittsburgh believed they found their heir apparent to him in the mold of Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt was initially slated to be a First Round Pick a season ago before suffering a leg injury heading into the draft. After falling to the Steelers in the Second Round and making an impact in limited time, the Steelers thought they had found their answer.... and it looked like it for a period of time. However, within this period, an all too common theme would occur for "Do it Tuitt"; the dreaded injury bug. Dating back to even his Rookie Season, Tuitt has failed to play an entire season worth of games. The injury list is large and immense so, for the sake of time, I will not list them here. What is the major point to takeaway from this is the lack of availability from him. Out of the 129 Regular Season Games from his Rookie Season to present, Tuitt has only participated in only 61.24% of those contests. Sadly, this is not good. To assist Tuitt though in this matter, Tyson Alualu was brought in initially as a rotational piece in 2017 but grew into a more reliable player for the team; 2019 being his best season in the Black n Gold and, coincidentally, Tuitt's as well. Again though, the injury bug would add another player to its collection; Alualu missing a good portion of 2020 with a leg injury and all of this season as well. With no Tuitt and no Alualu, teams now focus only and heavily only on removing Cameron Heyward from the equation; sometimes for good within a game. By not having an additional partner to assist him, not only were opposing Offensive Coordinators scheming against Heyward, they could also draw up blocking assignments to get to the second of the defense; both Bush and Schobert being exposed all together. Given the tremendous amount of loss the Steelers have endured in 2021 along the Defensive Line, depth players like Henry Mondeaux or even rookies like Isaiahh Loudermilk were either ill equipped or inexperienced to assist Cameron Heyward in any meaningful way. As a result; what was a defense that was long known for being able to stop the run has become a defense in which offenses can run wild upon. Losing top shelf players like Tuitt and Alualu in addition to the lack of experience in depth players ultimately meant some serious lumps for this defense.

    However, even this cannot pale in comparison to the biggest issue and, the biggest reason as to why the Steelers Run Defense is not what it used to be....

    3.) Death By One Thousand Cuts; A Masterclass of Failure of the Basics:

    *whew..... boy...*

    Lacking a playmaking ILB?! Check. A rock solid DL Duo?! Check. Again, these are just mere microcosms. This final point however, is the nail in the coffin. Sans the likes of T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick, this team's tackling fundamentals are flat out bad. Yes, Minkah and T.J. both have double digit missed tackles per SteelersDepot; 13.2% and 11.9% respectively. However, what is more important to discuss though is the total number of attempts relative to the miss rate; 136 total for Minkah and 67 total for T.J. Now, here is what is interesting to consider from here. Notice how I have only three players from this Defense listed. Why?? Despite Terrell Edmunds also having triple digit figures for the second time in his career (more on this later) and Devin Bush having the second lowest tackle rate if accounting for just Cameron, T.J. and Minkah at 10.8%, Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick are, essentially, more or less of what the defense has. I state this as some of the players listed within the hyperlink are not likely to return come 2022. Among those that I personally believe could come back.... Terrell Edmunds is the only likely option given the fact he is a FA after the season is over with. Now, recall earlier I stated that I would give more context regarding Terrell Edmunds... that time is now. Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick are the team leaders in tackles..... that is correct. Both Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick are the team leaders in tackles. However... here is a crazier twist; Minkah Fitzpatrick is the team leader with 118 total; a Steelers All Time Record for Safeties. Not even Troy Polamalu, a First Ballot Hall of Famer, has a season that will even come close. This does however come with a catch; Minkah Fitzpatrick has been the teams most consistent tackler overall in terms of volume. Overall though, that ends up going to Heyward; a 2.3% missed tackle rate. With only four of the eleven starters on Defense able to consistently make plays, this creates a series of big runs for not just the Offense but allows opposing Offenses to greatly exploit the weaknesses in the Steelers Defense; big rushing days for teams as a whole. This all but a root of a far larger issue; the lost art of the basics. Tackling is not just a basic football play but also an integral one of the game. Given the fact that the Steelers have prided themselves for so many years on this basic yet effective method, it does raise the question as to how did teams have such success against the team. The answer again, lies within the failure of the basics themselves. Yes, limited contact practices have greatly affected physical franchises like the Steelers. However, teams have learned to adapt or die. From 2019 to 2020, the Steelers had this down pat as few teams cracked 100 yards rushing and doubly so in 2019. In the second half of 2020 to present? The basics of tackling seem to no longer apply. Tackling though, does not explain it in its entirety. Gap assignment is yet another major abstract failure of this defense. Much of this does befall on the front seven for certain; the ILB's being the backbone of what constitutes a good run defense to a great one. However, the Defensive Line is the aspect of the front seven that is often forgotten and the one that actually carries and shoulders a large portion of gap integrity overall. Recalling from the previous point, opponents taking out Cameron Heyward made gap integrity all the more difficult for the likes of Bush and Schobert. This left the run defense responsibilities to the back end; Minkah and Terrell namely..... with the occasional CB support. In the end, rushing yards against the Steelers Defense seemed more easy to acquire than in years past. Without the basics... no matter how good a defense is or looks on paper... they will be sure to fail.

    In conclusion?

    The tragic loss of Ryan Shazier, Defensive Lineman being either not available, not dependable or both and a lack of the overall basics are what bring us to the 2021 Steelers as you see before you good sir; a laughing stock. It truly does pain me to say this but it is the truth and sometimes... well... the truth does indeed hurt. At the very least however, while the truth does indeed hurt, it also can reveal what the bigger issues are. Most importantly, the more clear the truth is, the more likely a solution can be found. For Pittsburgh, to get back to their old ways, quite a few stones will have to be turned to do so!! What that entails?!...... I cannot say. I can be certain of this; 2021 will be a season for the Steelers Defense as a whole to forget........

    ....... for the most part.

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