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Steelers News: Finding room for improvement on the Steelers defense

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: DEC 22 Steelers at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It has been a one-of-a-kind offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020. With the start of training camp now behind us, it looks like we’ll have to wait until opening weekend to see the Steelers take the field. Just because the NFL has cancelled the preseason doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at places where the Steelers could improve on defense from their stellar 2019 season.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Is improvement on defense an entire team approach, or do certain individuals need to bring it even more in 2020?

Steelers coaches insist the defense can get even better. OK, let’s find out where

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was already on record as saying his defense can do more in 2020.

Even in the turnover department, where the franchise led the NFL last year with 38.

“It’s reasonable to expect us to improve in that area and to improve in all areas,” Tomlin said back in June. “We have a young nucleus defensively, guys that have been here.”

Now defensive coordinator Keith Butler is doubling down on that prediction.

“Hopefully, we will be better wholly than last year,” Butler said last week.

That’s a tall order, given that the Steelers defense also had 54 sacks to lead the NFL. It allowed the third-fewest pass yards per game (194.6), third-fewest rush yards per carry (3.8), and fifth-fewest total yards per game (304.1). And it was tied for fifth-fewest defensive points allowed per game (18.9).

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • More from Vance McDonald’s Q&A with fans with Steelers Nation Unite

McDonald is seeing a completely different Ben

By: Teresa Varley,

When Steelers training camp practices wrap up for the day, players have always been accustomed to interacting with the fans at Saint Vincent College as they walked off the field.

But with camp now at Heinz Field, and no fans able to attend because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that interaction is coming in different manners.

On Friday afternoon, tight end Vance McDonald took part in the Steelers Nation Unite Huddle, answering fans questions that ranged from how Ben Roethlisberger is doing to life on his farm in Westmoreland County.

“Everyone is sad to sort of end the long marriage at Saint Vincent College, including the fans,” said McDonald. “It was something the organization was used to. There was a level of comfort we had. It’s been new for everyone, including us. There are certain things we had to work through, that is proximity, location of meetings, and COVID enhances all of that. A little bit of a learning curve. We are doing our best.

“It’s pretty cool to do your training camp workday at Heinz Field, right in the middle of Pittsburgh. There are some pros and cons of it all. But we miss the live interaction with the fans.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Mike Wagner brought big plays when the Steelers needed them the most

‘Burgh’s Best to Wear It, No. 23: Mike Wagner made career of big-time interceptions for ’70s Steelers

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

No. 23: Mike Wagner

Mike Wagner had a knack for making big plays in big moments. For evidence, look no further than the work he displayed for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowls IX and X.

Wagner had an interception in each game against a Hall of Fame quarterback — first Fran Tarkenton, then Roger Staubach — and his picks contributed to the Steelers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy each time.

In the fourth quarter of Super Bowl IX, one play after the Steelers had taken a 16-6 lead against the Minnesota Vikings, Wagner atoned for an earlier pass interference penalty by intercepting Tarkenton. This helped the Steelers run down the clock until the waning seconds.

The next season, one in which Wagner earned his first of two trips to the Pro Bowl, Wagner had three interceptions in the postseason. Wagner’s interception of the Dallas Cowboys’ Staubach also came in the fourth quarter — one play after the Steelers had taken their first lead, 12-10. This set up a field goal, and the Steelers held on for a 21-17 victory.

On the final play, Staubach launched a desperation heave into the end zone, but Wagner was there to tip it to teammate Glen Edwards for a game-ending interception.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

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