clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cam Heyward leads the Steelers defensive Pro Football Focus grades

In the grades provided by PFF, Cam Heyward had his second-straight week scoring in the 90s.

Syndication: Beaver County Times Michael Longo/For USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Pittsburgh Steelers saved Christmas for Steelers Nation with a come-from-behind victory less than an hour before the clock struck midnight. The offense was able to find the end zone late when they needed it the most. As for the defense, they were once again dominant against the run and held the NFL’s leading rusher in check while pitching a shutout in the second half.

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 the Steelers Week 16 performance. Remember, these are just the grades for the Steelers for this past game and not combined with their previous performances. 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 53 snaps on defense in Sunday’s game.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

DT Cam Heyward: 90.3 (47 snaps)
DT Montravius Adams: 73.6 (16 snaps)
S Elijah Riley: 70.0 (10 snaps)
CB Levi Wallace: 69.9 (52 snaps)
OLB T.J. Watt: 69.8 (46 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

ILB Myles Jack: 52.7 (16 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 52.5 (8 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 48.6 (48 snaps)
DT DeMarvin Leal: 39.3 (9 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 28.8 (9 snaps)


Defensive Front Five

DT Cam Heyward: 90.3 (47 snaps)
DT Montravius Adams: 73.6 (16 snaps)
OLB T.J. Watt: 69.8 (46 snaps)
OLB Malik Reed: 69.4 (10 snaps)
DT Tyson Alualu: 66.0 (9 snaps)
OLB Jamir Jones: 60.2 (2 snaps)
DT Larry Ogunjobi: 53.3 (43 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 48.6 (48 snaps)
DT DeMarvin Leal: 39.3 (9 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 28.8 (9 snaps)

It’s no surprise to see Cam Heyward at the top of this list as he dominated throughout the game. It was a nice surprise to see Montravius Adams as the next highest score as he had reached a streak of three consecutive games of not even reaching an overall score in the 40s. Whether that was really about his play on the field or simply who was evaluating him from PFF is anybody’s guess. As usual, Larry Ogunjobi gets no love from PFF. What is concerning is the drop of Alex Highsmith who went from one of the highest scores he has ever seen to his lowest score since last season. The biggest contributing factor was a 31.8 coverage score which was the lowest of his three-year career. In coverage, PFF had Highsmith targeted one time for one reception for 10 yards.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Devin Bush: 68.1 (21 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 64.9 (53 snaps)
ILB Myles Jack: 52.7 (16 snaps)

While it wasn’t scores in the 80s like last week, Devin Bush and Robert Spillane still turned out decent scores this week. Bush was the top man with the best coverage score on the defense of 78.4 while having only a 50.3 run defense grade. Spillane was the exact opposite as he had a team high 90.3 run defense score but only a 40.5 coverage score. As for Myles Jack, he came up low in run defense (49.6) and average in coverage (63.2).

Defensive Backs

S Elijah Riley: 70.0 (10 snaps)
CB Levi Wallace: 69.9 (52 snaps)
S Damontae Kazee: 69.2 (47 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 60.6 (53 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 59.1 (53 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 57.1 (16 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 57.0 (15 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 52.5 (8 snaps)

After not seeing a defensive snap for the Steelers since Week 6, Elijah Riley took advantage of his opportunity due to the injuries of Terrell Edmunds and Tre Norwood and topped the scores of the defensive backs. Levi Wallace had the second-best coverage score behind Devin Bush with a 69.9 followed by Damontae Kazee with a 65.8. Even though Cam Sutton, Arthur Maulet, and Minkah Fitzpatrick all had interceptions, they found themselves in the bottom portion of the grades at this position group for this week with Sutton being the only one above the 60.0 standard.


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.