When it comes to the success, or failure, of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers, most would admit the deciding factor won’t be the offense, the loss of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, or even replacing Brown’s 15 receiving touchdowns in 2018.
No, the X-factor, if you will, is none other than the team’s defense. Can they keep opposing offenses off the board and turning games into a shootout?
Throughout the first three games of the NFL Preseason, the Steelers’ defense has proven to be dynamic, and fast. Two adjectives rarely used to describe the Steelers in the past few seasons, mainly without Ryan Shazier in the middle of the defense.
Shazier remains sidelined, but Devin Bush seems to have had a similar impact on the defense as a whole. The more ground he can cover, the less ground his teammates have to cover. This allows players to remain in their respective positions, worry less about covering for someone else, and ultimately doing their job at a high level.
This defense is all-in, and doing it together. Win, lose or draw...
“That’s just a short-term preview of the type of heat we’re trying to bring all season,” said safety Terrell Edmunds to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “We’re trying to go out there together, fight together, win together, and hopefully we don’t, but we’ll lose together.”
So what has been the biggest difference for the Steelers defense in 2019, compared to the 2018 version? Even with players suitable for multiple positions, they are comfortable.
“We’re all comfortable,” Mike Hilton said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who are versatile. We’ve got a room full of guys who are able to make plays at different positions. That helps our defense. We ask each other questions. We pay attention to what each other is doing. We’re confident in where guys can play. It just makes us versatile. It definitely feels more real.”
The Steelers have shown tremendous improvement in their defense so far this preseason, mainly as it pertains to team speed. The closing speed of players like Edmunds and Steven Nelson. The sideline-to-sideline speed of Mark Barron and Devin Bush. This defense might not be perfect, but they certainly are capable of making plays. And hopefully helping the Steelers win more games.
Stay locked in to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Week 4 NFL Preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers.