The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has shown some changes this season,starting with new defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
Butler has brought some slight philosophy changes .In the past under former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, the Steelers relied on the 3-4 scheme and the outside linebackers to bring a pass rush,while the defensive linemen tied up blockers to clear a path to the quarterback.
Under Keith Butler the Steelers still play some 3-4 but throw in a few more 4-3 schemes, letting the defensive lineman rush the quarterback.After 4 games the results are positive.
The Steelers have registered 14 sacks in the first four games with defensive end Stephon Tuitt leading the team, collecting 3.5 sacks. Defensive end Cam Heyward is tied for second with 2 sacks.
With these two players being among the most talented players on the Steelers young defense, Keith Butler really had little choice but to get these two more involved in the pass rush.
Butler spoke on this fact in training camp this summer…
Keith Butler: “We’ve got a lot of draft choices in that front seven, and we’ve got to use those draft choices in our front seven,not only in the linebackers, but in (ends) Cam (Heyward) and (Stephon) Tuitt. Those guys are talented guys, so we have to use them, too.
“We can’t let them always take up for the linebackers or try to take people off the linebackers. We’ve got to let them play football, too. So, hopefully, we can employ everybody in this defense. Especially the front seven.”
Through the first 4 games it looks as though Butler is true to his word .
Butler was not the only one to take notice of the need to get Heyward and Tuitt more involved. Their teammates have sung their praises also…
Linebacker Arthur Moats: “When you think of guys like Cam and Tuitt, they’re freaks. To be that big and that agile, now we’re being able to use that, and it helps us be more productive as a team.”
“It’s huge. We’ve been able to give the front line a lot more freedom as far as being more aggressive and attacking instead of the traditional style and two-gapping and keeping the linebackers clean,It makes it more of an attacking style and it helps them be more playmakers and use their athletic ability.”
Linebacker Lawrence Timmons: “You get these guys on an island with a guard, typically it’s a win for us,I think we’ll see more of that this year as it goes on. I think they’re just as much playmakers as the linebackers. They have lot of energy, they run to the ball heavy and they make plays on the run and the pass rush. They’re playmakers in their own right.”
Cam Heyward explained how he and Tuitt can take advantage of opportunities against opposing offenses….
Cam Heyward: “Tuitt’s got great athletic ability,he has a year under his belt. He’s going to get a lot of opportunities to get one-on-one. If I get doubled, he should win the one on-ones, and if he gets doubled I should win the one-on-ones.’’
So far Heyward and Tuitt have taken advantage of these opportunities and they should only get better as the season moves forward.
Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt are two of the most dynamic players the Steelers have had on the defensive line together in years and it looks as though people are beginning to take notice.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned to Steelers N Stuff for more news and updates . Like us on FaceBook and Share this post with Friends. Follow us on twitter @STEELERSNSTUFF and @NFLNSTUFF Go Steelers!