There were moments last season when viewers watching the Pittsburgh Steelers defense had to feel the same way I did. As the ball carrier approached a player donning black-and-gold, you knew the first would-be tackler was not going to do the job.
Sure, there were times when the team surprised us all with a solo tackle, or even one for a loss, but so many big plays were a product of poor tackling. After all, there is a reason Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler have already stressed how tackling will be a huge factor in the upcoming training camp this year.
That reason being it was atrocious last season.
Just check out this statistic, via Pro Football Focus’ Steelers Twitter page:
Last season, the #Steelers missed a tackle on 16.1% of run plays (31st in NFL).— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) July 19, 2018
They added sure tackling veterans this offseason in S Morgan Burnett and LB Jon Bostic, who ranked 1st and 8th respectively at their positions in tackling efficiency. https://t.co/R2sUJejvPY
It is good to see the Steelers’ added players like Morgan Burnett and Jon Bostic, who ranked very high in the tackling category, per PFF, but my goodness how bad was the tackling in 2017?!
Let’s take a look at one of the gems from the season that was:
I know you can’t really hit anymore in the NFL, but is tackling banned too?#Steelers #Colts pic.twitter.com/YIL7GhrT7i— Noah Coslov (@NoahCoslov) November 12, 2017
As you can see, Mike Mitchell is no longer on the team, but he was not the only member of the defense who failed to bring down ball carriers. You could talk about Artie Burns’ failed opportunities, Ryan Shazier over-shooting the ball and even Bud Dupree’s inability to tackle efficiently, but all this equates to the decisions which were made this offseason.
The additions of players who communicate well, and tackle well. The focus on the skill in training camp. All in an attempt to turn the defense from a band of miscues, to a tackling machine.