The 2018 season was a forgettable one in many ways. Not only did the team squander a 7-2-1 record to finish the year 9-6-1, but the team’s defense had a historically bad season when it came to creating turnovers. Throughout the 16-game regular season, the defense was only able to take the football away 15 times.
That result simply isn’t good enough to win in today’s NFL.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Mike Tomlin has put an emphasis on turnovers to start the team’s 2019 training camp — and so far so good.
This from Steelers.com’s Mike Prisuta:
2. DBs are getting hands on the ball, getting their share of INTs. They throw the ball a lot, so that ought to be happening. Still, for a team as INT-starved as Steelers, that’s progress. DL also getting hands up, getting tips, clogging passing lanes. Gotta have that vs. Brady.— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) July 29, 2019
What should be noted also is how the Steelers aren’t just focusing on intercepting passes, but getting hands on the football. This would not only include defensive backs breaking up passes, but also defensive linemen timing passes and getting their hands up to try and bat down or deflect passes to combat the quick passing attack so many teams deploy on a weekly basis.
This from DKPittsburghSports’ Dale Lolley:
Stephon Tuitt said the Steelers d linemen are working on getting their hands up more at the line of scrimmage to disrupt quick passing games. They had a couple of batted passes Sunday. #Steelers #dkps— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 29, 2019
Is it just training camp? Yes. Are some of these results coming without pads? Yes. But even practice success can morph into in-game success, and for the Steelers even small steps in this category should be noted.
While most people look at the Steelers’ Giveaway/Takeaway stats from 2018, the 15 takeaways look awful, but the 26 giveaways don’t help matters much. While the offense has work to do when it comes to protecting the football, the defense giving the offense extra possessions will only lead to more production — especially for one of the best red-zone offenses in the NFL. There is a reason the game of football is considered the ultimate team sport. Success by the defense equates to success by the offense in the form of extra possessions.
Every year the Steelers seem to have a focus on a few aspects of their game. Two years ago it was tackling, last season it was red-zone success, and both years these areas improved during the season. If the focus on disrupting plays/taking the football away during the preseason follows suit, it will go a long way towards the Steelers getting back to the postseason in 2019.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes as the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to work through training camp and prepare for their first preseason game next Friday when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field.