clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pro Football Focus grades show the Steelers secondary struggles in Week 2

In the grades provided by PFF, the Steelers’ secondary held the bottom defensive spots with one exception.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled to get things going consistently yet again on offense in Week 2 as the defense attempted to overcome the loss of several key players due to injury. If anything, Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season is a reminder to Steelers fans not to take anything for granted and how delicate the difference in play between wins and losses can be. The Steelers must now go back to the drawing board in order to avoid a losing streak early in the season.

But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for their Week 1 performance. Before going any further, I must give the typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense and defense. Next up is the defense. Included will be all the players who played at least one snap and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 66 snaps on defense in Week 2.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

OLB T.J. Watt: 94.9 (16 snaps)
DT Cam Heyward: 80.2 (56 snaps)
DT Tyson Alualu: 70.5 (4 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 69.3 (66 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 69.0 (48 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

CB James Pierre: 50.3 (66 snaps)
CB Tre Norwood: 45.4 (50 snaps)
CB Justin Layne: 44.4 (9 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 34.8 (4 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 29.1 (66 snaps)


Defensive Front Seven

OLB T.J. Watt: 94.9 (16 snaps)
DT Cam Heyward: 80.2 (56 snaps)
DT Tyson Alualu: 70.5 (4 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 69.0 (48 snaps)
DT Isaiah Buggs: 67.9 (22 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 67.3 (44 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 59.7 (18 snaps)
OLB Melvin Ingram III: 57.2 (57 snaps)
OLB Jamir Jones: 53.5 (15 snaps)

I doubt many are surprised that the Steelers defensive front lead the way with the PFF grades. Unfortunately, the overall grades are not as high as they were the previous week. The other unfortunate item of note is two of the top three scores were from players who left the game due to injury and did not play the second half. Although his overall grade was further down the positional list, Alex Highsmith had a great run defense grade of 85.5 which only trailed Cam Heyward’s 89.6 on the day.

It should also be noted that through all of Sunday’s games, Cam Heyward has the top PFF grade (93.3) of any defensive player in the NFL. Also, T.J. Watt’s overall grade (91.8) lands in third only 0.1 behind Maxx Crosby of the Raiders.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Robert Spillane: 59.9 (53 snaps)
ILB Joe Schobert: 56.2 (66 snaps)

For the second straight week, the inside linebackers finished in the middle of the pack as they didn’t do anything overly outstanding. The most notable number of them all is likely the fact Joe Schobert played every defensive snap in Devin Bush’s absence.

Defensive Backs

S Terrell Edmunds: 69.3 (66 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 53.3 (66 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 50.3 (66 snaps)
CB Tre Norwood: 45.4 (50 snaps)
CB Justin Layne: 44.4 (9 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 34.8 (4 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 29.1 (66 snaps)

With the exception of Terrell Edmunds, who landed in the top five grades for the team, the rest of the Steelers secondary brought up the bottom six spots on the Steelers defense. Although the secondary struggled on Sunday, the scores given by PFF also show that they still just don’t get the way the Steelers defense has been operating the first two weeks. While Minkah Fitzpatrick did not have a strong outing, saying his score was worse than Witherspoon, who was credited with the 61-yard touchdown, as well as Justin Layne and Tre Norwood is still a bit of a stretch.


So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.