Pittsburgh Steelers fans have heard it repeatedly during the offseason from Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler and anyone else within the organization having any type of authority — “We need to tackle better.”
After stating the obvious, the Steelers have been going through a very physical training camp where tackling has received strong focus. One might expect, with this hyper-focus on the skill, you’d see some on-field improvement, right?
Check out the stats from Pro Football Focus (PFF) after Thursday’s Week-1 preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles — a game Pittsburgh won 31-14.
Last season, the #Steelers missed 146 tackles during the regular season which was worst in the NFL.— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) August 11, 2018
The missed tackles returned in the first preseason game of 2018. The #Steelers missed 10 tackles against the Eagles on Thursday.
Not a great start and, while some of those missed tackles came from players destined to be unemployed in a few weeks, anyone who watched the game knows the starters also contributed to many of those missed tackles.
It’s early, but after fans witnessed their favorite team fold like a cheap lawn-chair on defense to finish the 2017 season, the old panic-button finger is getting sort of itchy.
This week’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers will be an opportunity for the Steelers’ defense to put some of those concerns to rest. To be quite honest, if the Steelers were able to just do two things better in 2018, most fans would be pleasantly surprised and pleased.
Those things would be:
- Tackle better
- Don’t give up the big play
Thinking back to the Week-1 preseason game, the defense failed on both accounts. Ten total missed tackles and Dashaun Phillips gave up a big touchdown pass in the first half.
It’s early though — just keep telling yourself that and hope the Keith Butler-led defense starts to figure out their responsibilities and is able to put what’s being taught into good practice. After all, Pittsburgh doesn’t need the top defense in the league — they just need a defense capable of doing the mundane tasks well, like tackling, and get the ball back more often for the Steelers’ prolific offense.