Pittsburgh’s Defense Needs To Regroup
The Steelers are headed to their bye week at the right time. The defense needs to get healthy, but most importantly an identity check is in order.
Most teams use the bye week for a mental break before they get back into the swing of things and focus on the next task at hand. Well, it would bode well for the Steelers to use every second of the bye week to their advantage.
The defense is struggling. There is no other way to put it.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward has missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, but that didn’t stop him from opening his mouth following Pittsburgh’s 27-16 loss at Heinz Field against the New England Patriots.
“It was like we just quit,” he told reporters Monday. “I don’t mean to say that lightly, but I feel like we had so many opportunities out there. I felt like after that, it was almost like the wind got pushed out of us.”
Of course it’s easy to say that when you’re not out there yourself, but Heyward is the defensive leader, and his words carry some meaning.
Currently the Steelers defense ranks 28th against the pass and 17th against the run—due in part to giving up nearly 400 yards on the ground in the previous two weeks.
The defense hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and the secondary continues to have its issues.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier also sounded off on the defense.
“He’s a big guy, he’s a good runner, but we didn’t get blocks,” Shazier told reporters in reference to New England’s LeGarrette Blount. “We didn’t make tackles. Everyone is responsible. We have to hold each other accountable. We have to make sure we can be the defense we can be. Right now, we’re looking like garbage. This is terrible right now.”
Blount rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns. The week prior, Miami’s Jay Ajayi torched the Steelers for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
According to NFL.com , the Steelers defense has allowed an average of 181 rushing yards per game in the last two weeks, 418 total yards per game, 28.5 points per game and hasn’t recorded a single sack.
"We're normally known for stopping the run, but, if teams feel like they can get 100 or 200 yards rushing on us every game, they're going to continue to run," Shazier said. "If we keep playing like this, they're going to keep doing this. We have to make sure when we come back we're going to force them to stop running the ball and do whatever we want them to do. Right now, they can do whatever they want to do, and that’s going to hurt us. We’re going to continue to lose if that happens.”
Chris Galiszewski is the lead writer for the Pittsburgh Steelers at PFS. Follow @cgaliszewski and @spot_steelers on twitter for daily updates.