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The Steelers defense stinks even more than the offense does

Is Matt Canada a huge problem for the Steelers in 2022? You betcha. Is he their only problem in 2022? Absolutely not. In fact, the Steelers “elite” defense may be an even bigger issue.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

My flight out of Pittsburgh was delayed two hours the other day. Thanks a lot, Matt Canada.

My cable bill is even more expensive than it was one year ago. Thanks a lot, Matt Canada.

The Steelers' defense is ranked 29th in the NFL. Thanks a lot, Matt Canada.

Matt Canada. Matt Canada. Matt Canada.

The Fighting Matt Canadas are on a bye this week and will take on the New Orleans Saints at Matt Canada Canada next Sunday afternoon.

Sorry for all of the typos. I’ve been talking about Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada so much, my computer auto-corrects everything it thinks I’m about to type and changes it to Matt Canada.

This piece is about the Steelers' defense and how god-awful it has been in 2022.

This Steelers’ defense is terrible. Yep, while the offense has certainly been a cross to bear for the Steelers in 2022, the defense has double-crossed Pittsburgh at just about every turn since T.J. Watt suffered a pectoral injury in Week 1 and was subsequently placed on Injured Reserve.

Watt’s injury took the Steelers' defense from “elite” to downright pathetic in a matter of weeks. I put “elite” in quotes because, well, was it ever truly elite, to begin with?

Yes, Watt is special. Yes, Watt is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But Mean Joe Greene, NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1972 and 1974, missed some games for those elite Steelers’ defenses of the 1970s, but those units didn’t quickly regress to the bottom of the NFL in terms of effectiveness. Rod Woodson, Defensive Player of the Year in 1993, missed all but a few minutes of the 1995 regular season, but the Steelers still managed to make it all the way to Super Bowl XXX with the defense doing more than its share to help get them there.

In addition to being ranked 29th in yardage allowed, Pittsburgh’s defense is yielding 24.6 points per game. It’s recorded five takeaways since posting five in the season opener in Cincinnati and hasn’t had any in the past three games. It’s tallied eight sacks after recording seven in the win over the Bengals in Week 1.

Has the Steelers' defense improved against the run in 2022? Why, yes, it has. Pittsburgh is currently ranked 15th in that category, a massive jump from 2021 when it finished dead last in the NFL. What about its defense of the pass? I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. Just one season after finishing ninth against the pass, Pittsburgh’s defense is now ranked next-to-last in that same category in 2022.

OK, you get it, the defense is bad. What’s your point, Tony?

The Steelers' problems aren’t all Matt Canada’s fault. This isn’t to say he doesn’t deserve a lot of the blame. This isn’t to say he doesn’t deserve to be fired.

However, Matt Canada isn’t the Steelers’ only problem in 2022. In fact, he may not even be their biggest problem.

Yes, Watt will be back, and that should make a difference, but will it make the defense “elite” again?

Put it this way, Watt recorded 22.5 sacks in 2021 and was named DYOP, yet, the Steelers had the 24th-ranked defense in the NFL (one spot below where the offense was ranked, btw).

So, no, I don’t see Watt making that huge of a difference. If he actually can make that kind of an impact, while also turning Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi, Minkah Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Steelers’ defenders into effective players again, Watt should ask all of those guys for a percentage of their weekly paychecks.

If I had to put a percentage on who has been more responsible for the Steelers' 2-6 start in 2022, I’d place 55 percent of the blame on the defense and 45 percent on the offense.

The defense, even without Watt, supposedly has the better players. It certainly has the more experienced players. Yet, it’s let the team down more often than it’s propped it up over these past seven games.

Anyway, I’ve said my piece. I will now let you go back to your regularly scheduled program titled, Blame Matt Canada, a production brought to you by the proud folks at Kenny Pickett Is A Bust Studios.