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The defensive front tops the Steelers defensive Pro Football Focus Wild Card grades

In the grades provided by PFF, players along the front five held most of the top spots

NFL: AFC Wild Card Playoffs-Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers qualified for the 2021 NFL postseason, but didn’t put up much of a fight. After hanging with the Chiefs and even having a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, the touchdown came courtesy of the defense while the offense did nothing to keep them in the game. Eventually, after holding them scores on the first five drives of the game, the Steelers defense eventually succumbed to the dynamic offense of the Chiefs and surrendered six-straight touchdown drives as the offense only started going after they were down four touchdowns.

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 Wild Card performance. These scores 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. Next up is the defense. Included will be all the players who played at least one defensive snap and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 65 snaps on defense in their Wild Card game.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

OLB Taco Charlton: 79.1 (5 snaps)
OLB T.J. Watt: 76.5 (56 snaps)
ILB Joe Schobert: 73.8 (35 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 73.2 (40 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 67.6 (12 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 44.1 (65 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 43.8 (64 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 36.1 (34 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 35.7 (21 snaps)
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III: 27.2 (9 snaps)


Defensive Front Seven

OLB Taco Charlton: 79.1 (5 snaps)
OLB T.J. Watt: 76.5 (56 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 73.2 (40 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 67.6 (12 snaps)
DT Cam Heyward: 64.1 (45 snaps)
DT Montravius Adams: 60.7 (27 snaps)
OLB Derrek Tuszka: 57.2 (10 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 46.7 (59 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 35.7 (21 snaps)

Despite only playing five snaps, Taco Charlton did the most with what he was given and came in with the top score on the team. T.J. Watt was once again at the top with his highest grade coming in his pass coverage with a 77.8 score. The defensive front held four of the top five overall spots with six of the nine players scoring above the average 60.0 grade.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Joe Schobert: 73.8 (35 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 51.7 (33 snaps)
ILB Marcus Allen: 50.6 (14 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 36.1 (34 snaps)
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III: 27.2 (9 snaps)

The Steelers split snaps pretty evenly between Schobert, Bush, and Spillane. It was Schobert coming out well on top in the scores he landed in the top five. Devin Bush had a particularly low tackling score of 29.6 which is not common for him the season. Robert Spillane struggled with a 35.4 coverage grade, but it was still better than that of Ulysees Gilbert with a 32.7 coverage grade.

Defensive Backs

S Miles Killebrew: 66.7 (2 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 65.0 (42 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 61.6 (14 snaps)
CB Joe Haden: 55.2 (64 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 45.5 (64 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 44.1 (65 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 43.8 (64 snaps)

Most of the grades for the Steelers secondary ended up towards the bottom as no player cracked the top five. Miles Killebrew graded well on only two snaps had a good tackling score of 73.3, while Ahkello Witherspoon‘s coverage score of 70.4 was second to only T.J. Watt. Once again, PFF put Minkah Fitzpatrick toward the bottom despite a solid run defense score of 68.5 but only had him with a 42.8 coverage score.


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.