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Pro Football Focus dives deep into the Steelers statistical minutia this offseason

Some love PFF. Some hate PFF. Either way, these stats regarding the Black-and-gold are telling.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

More often than not, when Pro Football Focus (PFF) numbers are thrown about on BTSC, a skirmish ensues about the validity of PFF and their grading or rankings. Steelers fans can either take them as an oracle for advanced metrics and film break-downs, or simply as entertainment. However you want to take them, they do churn out some interesting tweets about Pittsburgh Steelers players.

Last fall, PFF made more Twitter accounts directing their tweets towards the teams involved, and not just to their general feed. This made it easier for followers to grab info from their favorite teams — instead of digging through the mountain of information whipped out on their main Twitter handle.

One of the tweets that gets Steelers fans salivating is JuJu Smith-Schuster’s rating when targeted. Smith-Schuster not only led all rookies in this category, he led all NFL wideouts.

The 2017 second-round pick reeled in 58 of his 79 targets and scampered into the end zone on seven occasions. The sure-handed product out of USC had only two dropped passes, making him a favorite of Ben Roethlisberger’s. For reference, a perfect quarterback rating is 158.3.

For those Steelers fans who have been clamoring for a box safety, look no further than Green Bay Packers castoff Morgan Burnett. Burnett has been crowding the line of scrimmage for years, but the pinnacle was last season. In 2017, Burnett played within eight yards of the line on an astonishing 83% of his snaps. I wonder how this rate compares to Steelers’ legend Troy Polamalu.

James Washington fans who have glowed about his college stats and tape already have seen what the Steelers’ 2018 second-round pick did to Big-12 defenses. Out of his 1,549 receiving yards, 815 were of the long variety. It’s an interesting stat, but PFF doesn’t list what constitutes “deep receiving yardage”. That’s up to you to debate in the comments section.

Cornerback Mike Hilton burst onto the scene and excited Steelers fans during the 2017 preseason. At that point, not many fans had an inkling about who he was. But after the 2017 season, fans knew exactly who he was. The former undrafted rookie bounced between the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots before landing on the Steelers’ practice squad in December of 2016.

Hilton earned PFF’s eighth-highest ranking for all slot cornerbacks which is based on all facets of his game, including not only pass coverage but also run defense. Let the debate begin over how PFF uses their proprietary methods to rank players.

  • 17 total QB pressures.
  • First among all CBs in run-stopping percentage.
  • Allowed 53 passing yards from Week 12 through Week 17.
  • Allowed a 61.7 quarterback rating out of the slot which was good enough for second among all CBs.

I’ve stayed away from Le’Veon Bell mentions in articles lately. I thought BTSC fans had already been inundated by the constant chatter about him. But judging from the popularity of Bell articles, it’s clear the majority of Steelers’ fans are not as tired of hearing about him as some of the fan base is. With OTAs concluded and training camp still well over a month away, what is there really to discuss and debate?

Bell is coming off his third Pro Bowl selection — which oddly opens up the debate on how good he actually is. PFF does show his versatility and also his running style.

It’s left up to you exactly what you gather from the above tweets. For me, at the very least, it’s entertaining during the most boring time of the year for the NFL. At most, I find the tweets informative as nuggets of information not found elsewhere.

Do the tweets give you a bit more insight into new additions such as Burnett and Washington? Do you catch a new perspective from what you saw out of JuJu, Bell and Hilton in 2017?