One of the interesting aspects of the terrible 0-4 start the Pittsburgh Steelers have had so far this season has to do with the team’s inability to get sacks or create turnovers, making a defensive unit that’s usually among the best in the NFL just as bad as the problem-plagued offensive unit.
The Steelers are ranked 7th in the NFL when it comes to yards allowed per game, doing a decent job in keeping teams at 321.8 yards per game, but that number is misleading. They’re last in the NFL in sacks, generating only four so far this season: 1 against the Titans in week 1, 0 against the Bengals, two against the Bears and one more against the Vikings.
There’s also the turnovers, which is a painful point this season, with the Steelers having an AFC worst -11 takeaway margin, giving away the ball 11 times (5 interceptions and 6 fumbles) while not generating a single turnover so far this season. No wonder there aren’t that many yards against them, but they’re giving up 27.5 points per game, 23rd in the NFL.
However, the defensive problems once again have to do with the offense being terrible, beginning with the offensive line. Teams aren’t forced to make plays against the Steelers, and run the ball quite a lot, eliminating the chances of getting sacks for the Steelers defense, or getting interceptions. You can’t pick off quarterback when they don’t throw against you.
Pittsburgh have seen 129 rushing attempts against them this season, an average of 32.3, which puts them right behind the Jags and the Giants at the bottom of the league, both win-less teams as well, in terms of the amount of running plays they have to face. Teams average only 3.8 yards per carry against a Steelers defense that can still play well on certain plays, but it isn’t good enough to make up that many mistakes the offense is making.
There’s also the style the Steelers use on defense. Their corners, both big at 6’2, play 10-15 yards off their receivers, and this is a catch and tackle defense, means there are very few attempts being made at the ball. Not a lot of turnovers are going to be generated this way.
The Steelers have given up on making the playoffs, even if no one has run away with the AFC North yet, having three teams at 3-2 at the moment. However, just getting back on a winning track and slowly fixing the offensive line seems to be enough for them at this point, although it’s hard to see where the answers are going to come from.