The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has been in a funk the last couple of seasons. A defense with a long-standing reputation of harassing opposing quarterbacks has come up a bit short in that category in recent history.
The 2014 season saw the Steelers defense collect only 33 sacks ,the team’s fewest in 26 seasons, ranking them 26th in the NFL,a year after being tied for 25th with just 34 sacks in 2013.
The Steelers made changes to the defense this off-season, starting with promoting long-time linebacker coach Keith Butler to defensive coordinator.
Butler and the coaching staff have added a few new wrinkles to the defense and Sunday’s preseason game against the Packers may be a sign that those changes are beginning to yield results.
The Steelers defense racked up 6 sacks against the Packers , after having totaled 3 sacks in the previous two games combined.
The sacks came from 6 different defensive players with OLB James Harrison,OLB Jarvis Jones, OLB Bud Dupree, S Shamarko Thomas, ILB L.J. Fort and Ian Wild all getting a sack each.
The sacks came from a variety of places with pressure being applied from both inside and out and a safety blitz.
In the past , the Steelers relied on the 3-4 and a cover 3 defense with the main pressure coming from the outside linebackers.
Under new defensive coordinator Kieth Butler it’s clear that the Steelers want to become more versatile with multiple different looks depending on the offense they are up against.
Butler spoke on this subject with Mark Kaboly of TribLive…
Kieth Butler: “We just can’t be a 3-4 team and can’t just be a 4-3 team,I don’t think you can get around that. Offenses are multiple, so you have to do what you have to do to stop them. In order to do that, you try to match up your people with their people.”
“We are not strictly anything.”
The Steelers defense has worked on many different looks and formations this off-season and training camp. They have incorporated more cover 2 defensive looks and more 4-3 packages.
They now have the young talent to teach and mold into this new defensive philosophy.The Steelers want to be able to be versatile enough to play 3-4 or 4-3 and multiple coverage schemes at any given time ,keeping opposing offenses guessing.
It was only preseason and growing pains can be expected ,so you can’t read too much into it however, Sunday’s six sacks may be the beginning of new era… not a 3-4 defense , not a 4-3 defense but a “What Ever It Takes” Defense!
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