In case you didn’t know, the Pittsburgh Steelers will return to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA in exactly 26 days of this article being published. With that, I decided to revive an old series we used to do as a lead up to training camp.
30 predictions in 30 days.
Myself and Simon Chester are alternating days giving a prediction for the upcoming season. Some will be team oriented, while others will be specific to individual players. Either way, read on to see the reason why we think today’s prediction will come to fruition, and why it might not come true. Give your thoughts in the comment section below the article.
Training camp is almost here! Here We Go!
Prediction: The Steelers’ defense will reach 50 sacks for the third straight season.
Why it will happen: The Pittsburgh Steelers might not do a lot of things well on defense, but getting after the quarterback is one area they do extremely well under coordinator Keith Butler. Throughout Butler’s tenure, since 2015, the Steelers have been in the Top 10 of team sack totals every year.
Sacks by season:
2018: 52 (T-1)
2017: 56 (1)
2016: 38 (T-9)
2015: 48 (T-3)
Yes, I realize the prediction isn’t whether the Steelers will finish in the Top 10, but if they will have 50 or more sacks for the third straight season. To me, I don’t just look at the numbers, which don’t just show the team is certainly able to get after the quarterback with regularity, but also look at the trend in which the team’s defense is heading.
In my opinion, the Steelers’ defense is improving in multiple areas, all which will help them with their sack totals. The addition of Steven Nelson to tandem with Joe Haden should help keep receivers from running rampant down the field. Throw in the additions of Devin Bush and Mark Barron, and the Steelers’ coverage skills should have been upgraded tremendously heading into 2019. If the coverage is better, the quarterback has to hold onto the ball longer. The longer the quarterback has to hold onto the ball equates to more time for the pass rush to get home.
When it comes to the pass rush specifically, this area also looks to be an up-and-coming unit. T.J. Watt looks to be a budding superstar, Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave accounted for 20 of the Steelers’ 52 sacks last season.
Combine all that together, the scheme, players and additions, and I feel you have a recipe for success.
Why it won’t happen: If you listen to our Steelers Preview podcast (you can listen to the latest episode in the player below this article) a few episodes we talked about this very prediction. Could the Steelers achieve the 50 sack mark in 2019? What we found out, courtesy of Dave Schofield, is how the Steelers have never had 50+ sacks in three consecutive seasons — ever.
History is one thing, but when you look at the above season totals, it just seems natural for a dip to occur. The past two seasons the Steelers have accumulated over 20 sacks against the Cleveland Browns alone the past two seasons. You have to assume the Browns will eventually be able to protect the quarterback better, and not surrender over 5 sacks a game when facing the black-and-gold.
While the Steelers’ defense certainly should be improved in 2019, 50 sacks for a third year in a row might be a stretch. They’ll likely be close, but history shows this will be an uphill battle.
What are your thoughts on this prediction? Do you think it will happen? Or are we crazy? Let us know by voting in the poll, and letting your voice be heard in the comment section below!
Will the Steelers’ defense tally 50 sacks in 2019?
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