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Cam Heyward remains the biggest bright spot on the Steelers defense, per Pro Football Focus

In the grades provided by PFF, the Steelers’ defensive captain once again put up a high score.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled to put points on the board in Week 3 as the defense was once again dealing with the loss of several key players due to injury. With three games now for the season, it’s a little easier to determine which of the first two games was more of an exception and less the rule as to when it comes to expectations for games to come. Either way, the Steelers need to improve as a team in order to get back into the win column.

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 3 performance. These score are just from Sunday’s game and not for the entire season. 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. First 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 47 snaps on defense in Week 3.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

DT Cam Heyward: 87.3 (42 snaps)
DT Isaiah Buggs: 84.9(15 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 73.9 (12 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 70.6 (47 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 67.1 (24 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

CB Joe Haden: 45.6 (47 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 43.4 (38 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 37.7 (9 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 35.9 (47 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 29.1 (6 snaps)


Defensive Front Seven

DT Cam Heyward: 87.3 (42 snaps)
DT Isaiah Buggs: 84.9(15 snaps)
OLB Melvin Ingram III: 65.4 (47 snaps)
OLB Derrek Tuszka: 64.7 (27 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 62.9 (43 snaps)
OLB Jamir Jones: 48.3 (20 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 37.7 (9 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 29.1 (6 snaps)

Cameron Heyward continues to be the biggest bright spot on the Steelers defense as he was the only starter remaining among the defensive front five who were expected to be on the field when the Steelers began training camp. With another impressive performance, Heyward continues to hold the top overall defensive grade for the entire NFL this season (93.2). While it was also pleasant to see Isaiah Buggs getting a high score, with it only being on less than a third of the defensive snaps isn’t helping as much as he could should the Steelers be in the personnel grouping which has him on the field. Melvin Ingram also performed admirably while playing every defensive snap at outside linebacker. Seeing both the scores and snap counts opposite of Ingram was quite puzzling with Jamir Jones not really being noticed on the field. While the defensive front did have a couple players in the bottom for the team, they were among those who did not see many snaps in the game as Loudermilk and Mondeaux combined for the same amount of snaps as Buggs.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Joe Schobert: 53.8 (42 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 43.4 (38 snaps)

It has become a common theme that the Steelers inside linebackers are merely just middle of the road on the entire defense. But when the overall scores were lower this week compared to the previous two, it’s even more discouraging.

Defensive Backs

CB Arthur Maulet: 73.9 (12 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 70.6 (47 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 67.1 (24 snaps)
CB Tre Norwood: 60.9 (14 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 60.4 (37 snaps)
CB Joe Haden: 45.6 (47 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 35.9 (47 snaps)

When the player who saw the least amount of snaps in the secondary is the one with the highest score, it could raise some questions. But Arthur Maulet is asked to do a specific job in certain subpackages and came through when he was needed. Cam Sutton had a solid game at cornerback, and James Pierre still managed an above-the-line score despite giving up the touchdown just before halftime. Seeing Joe Haden at the bottom is interesting, and PFF continues to say Minkah Fitzpatrick is doing next to nothing in coverage despite not giving up any receptions this week.


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.