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Why the Steelers will reach 60 sacks in 2021

In the new “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2021.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2021 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Pittsburgh Steelers defense will reach 60 sacks this season

Steelers Recent Sack Statistics:

2020: 56*
Leader: T.J. Watt (15.0)

2019: 54
Leader: T.J. Watt (14.5)

2018: 52
Leader: T.J. Watt (13.0)

2017: 56*
Leader: Cam Heyward (12.0)

2016: 38
Leader: James Harrison (5.0)

Why it will happen: The Steelers had 56 sacks last season, so one additional regular-season game in which they get four sacks would have them hit the mark. The Steelers were also averaging five sacks a game in the first four weeks of 2020 where Devin Bush played the entire game. Once the Steelers lost Bush, the average fell to three sacks a game. With Bush’s return, even though he is not a player who produces much in the sack department as he’s only had one in each season of his NFL career, he does allow the Steelers to use different schemes and blitzes.

Why it won’t happen: Although the Steelers 2020 sack production took a dive with the loss of Devin Bush, it also suffered in the games without Bud Dupree. Steelers we’re actually on pace to break 60 sacks last season until Dupree was lost for the year. So with Dupree now in Tennessee, the Steelers may not be able to produce the same amount of sacks as they did in 2020. Additionally, if the Steelers are not as strong in the secondary due to the loss of Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton, quarterbacks may be able to get the ball out quicker than in 2020.

Prediction: I would bet the Steelers set their franchise sack record in 2021 simply because they have an extra game to do so. Whether they get to 60 is the big challenge. Even though Bud Dupree is gone, I’m going with the prediction that they will reach 60 based solely on the numbers. Yes, the Steeler saw less sacks in games where Devin Bush was missing. But when looking at games where Dupree played and Bush did not, the Steelers averaged less than three sacks a game (2.83), but wants to Dupree was out the Steelers average actually went up a little bit (3.0). Therefore, I’m going with the return of Devin Bush will be more than the loss of Bud Dupree. Also, the Alex Highsmith factor has not even been discussed as many are looking for him to take a huge step in 2021.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.