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Steelers News: When will the Steelers’ pass rush show up consistently?

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the loser column after a poor performance vs. their divisional rival, the Baltimore Ravens, at Heinz Field in prime time in Week 4. With the Atlanta Falcons coming into Heinz Field for a Week-5 matchup, the Steelers will need to improve on their 1-2-1 record.

Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-Gold Links article.

This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet, and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article.

Today we talk about the missing Steelers’ pass rush. After recording a team record 56 sacks in 2017, this team hasn’t showed a consistent pass rush since Week 1 when they played the Cleveland Browns. Will Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt lead the way? Or will Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt be the ones leading the charge? Time will tell, but there is no guarantee when the Steelers’ pass rush will arrive.

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers’ pass rush not living up to standards

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In the Pittsburgh Steelers’ two losses this season, opposing quarterbacks have had 73 dropbacks. And by the team’s bookkeeping, the passer was hurried or pressured on just seven.

Is it any wonder, then, that Patrick Mahomes and Joe Flacco compiled an aggregate passer rating of 141.9 in victories against the Steelers in Weeks 2 and 4, respectively? That they combined for eight touchdown passes, an average of 344.5 passing yards and led their teams to a combined 68 points?

“We’ve got to create duress in that pocket,” coach Mike Tomlin said, unsolicited, when asked a question about the perceived poor play by his defensive backs so far this season. “We’ve got to aid our secondary in terms of the coverage and making our quarterback throw out of a well.”

Though the Steelers’ sack numbers aren’t too bad (they’re tied for fourth in the NFL with 13), that’s misleading both because seven of those sacks came in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns and because pressure is defined by measures other than just sacks.

Whatever term you use for these — hurries, pressures, QB hits — they can be subjective. The Steelers track these under the category of “quarterback hurries/pressures.” And they’re finding that they’re not getting enough of them, especially in their losses.

During the Steelers’ 26-14 loss to Baltimore last week, they pressured/hurried Flacco just twice. That’s the fewest for the team in any game since 2016.

“We’ve had our ups and down starting the season, no doubt,” outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo said. “We need to get better as whole unit pass rushing.”

Sunday will be ‘tough’ for Steelers’ Vince Williams, missing 1st career game because of injury

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Vince Williams’ attire for Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Atlanta Falcons will be different than any he’s adorned his early days with the team.

The Steelers’ longest-tenured linebacker will not be in uniform because of a hamstring injury.

“It’s tough,” Williams said Friday after missing a week of practice. “I’ve never missed a game (because of injury) ever. I missed a year (in college) but never missed a singular game my whole football career.”

Williams was inactive because of coach’s decision for the first game of his 2013 rookie season after the Steelers took him with a sixth-round draft pick. But he’s played in the 83 regular-season games since, a streak that is the fourth-longest among active NFL linebackers.

That streak, though, will come to an end Sunday at Heinz Field. Williams is listed as “doubtful” on the team’s official injury report, and over the past five seasons no player with such a designation has played for the Steelers.

Tyler Matakevch, L.J. Fort and Matthew Thomas will take Williams’ place at right inside linebacker against the Falcons. The plan is for Matakevich to play in the base defense and for Fort to play in passing-down subpackages (against the potent passing offense of Atlanta’s, that figures to be often), with rookie Thomas sprinkled in at times.

“It’s a good rotation between us,” Thomas said.

Not exactly clear is who will take over Williams’ role as the defense’s playcaller, though a logical choice is starting left inside linebacker Jon Bostic. Williams wears the “green dot” helmet that has radio communication with coaches on the sideline; Fort has traditionally been the second defensive player allowed to wear the radio helmet, as he was last week.

“They all do a great job communicating anyway,” Williams said. “(Who wears the dot) is not that much of a big deal…. They’re all professionals, everybody is prepared.”

Year 3 breakout stalls, but Steelers not giving up on Artie Burns

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

Two months ago, Artie Burns was shadowing Antonio Brown stride for stride and winning his fair share of matchups in training camp.

The Year 3 breakout for a first-round pick appeared imminent. The Steelers could pair Burns with veteran Joe Haden to play more man coverage against the league’s top receivers.

Then the season began, and Burns is still trying to wake up from a nightmarish stretch.

Burns looked distraught during a Week 3 media session in which he acknowledged his starting job was in jeopardy. That job went to veteran Coty Sensabaugh, who started against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

Burns and Sensabaugh have played in a rotation the past two contests, with Burns starting off the Week 4 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Burns is a tall, lanky cornerback with world-class speed, but he’s admitted to undermining those qualities with fluctuating energy levels in practices.

Now he’s taking ownership of his struggles and career, calling this stretch a “make or break” moment.

”I know I can make plays,” Burns said. “That’s why they brought me here, to make plays. I’ve just got to make them routine, like what I know I’m capable of doing.”