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The Steelers defense will lead the NFL in takeaways

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

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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 Steelers defense will lead the NFL in takeaways

Steelers 2020 Takeaways
INTs: 18 (T-1st)
Fumble Recoveries: 9
Total: 27 (2nd in NFL)

Why it will happen: When you are talking about the Steelers’ defense in 2021, many might believe the unit is bound for a step backwards. But what if the defense is poised to take a step forward? They will need contributions from younger players like Alex Highsmith, James Pierre and Devin Bush, but this defense is still going to cause chaos. Highsmith and T.J. Watt are going to continue to harass quarterbacks, and even after losing Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton, the Steelers’ defensive ball skills might have improved with Cam Sutton and James Pierre in the lineup. Needless to say, the Steelers defense shouldn’t have any problem taking the ball away again in 2021.

Why it won’t happen: When you lose players like Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton and Bud Dupree, it puts a big dent in the defense. Can players like Alex Highsmith, James Pierre and Cam Sutton step up and get the job done even close to what those previous players did? That is the question right now, and that ultimately has a direct impact on the team’s ability to take the ball away. Nelson didn’t take the ball away at a tremendous clip, but Dupree and Hilton sure did cause a lot of bad decisions by quarterbacks. Those led to turnovers, and there is a lot of uncertainty on the defense heading into this season.

Prediction: Last season the Miami Dolphins led the NFL in takeaways with 29, and you have to think the league leader will be at 30, or above, with the 17th game now a permanent fixture in the NFL. Can the Steelers eclipse 30 and lead the league in takeaways? Absolutely they can, but they’ll need some things to go their way. And by that I mean they need some of those loose balls bouncing into their hands. Takeaways come in bunches, and the Steelers typically put themselves into great position to take the ball away. I do believe their secondary has tremendous ball skills in 2021, and they’ll continue to get pressure on the quarterback, resulting in more takeaways. I’ll predict the Steelers lead the league with 32 takeaways 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.