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The Steelers run defense will finish in the top half of the NFL

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers run defense will finish in the top half of the NFL

Why it will happen: The Steelers finishing last against the run in 2021 was an anomaly. In 2020 they finished 11th in the NFL while in 2019 they finished 14th. With the Steelers expecting the return of Stephon Tuitt last season, which never happened, and the loss of Tyson Alualu in Week 2, it was too much on the inside linebackers to pick up the slack for what was lacking in front of them. Even so, it wasn’t that the Steelers run defense started off terrible as they were ninth in the NFL going into Week 6 and still tenth during their bye week. Giving up over 200 rushing yards in four different games in the second half of the season with another game coming up only two yards short is what did the Steelers in. Interesting enough, the Steelers went 2-1-1 in those games where they gave up more than 200 yards rushing mainly because they gave up less yardage in the air than on the ground. But with the return of Alualu in the Steelers signing Larry Ogunjobi to help fill the void of Stephon Tuitt, they are much better equipped to stop the run in 2022.

Why it won’t happen: Part of the reason the Steelers give up so many rushing yards is because of the teams on their schedule. Having four games each year against the Browns and the Ravens, these two teams were both in the top five in rushing the last two years with the Ravens being there in the last four. Because the Steelers are going up against strong rushing teams, they’re willing to give up some yards on the ground while keeping down the air yards. It’s not that it was a bad thing in 2021 as they went 4-0 in games against the Browns and Ravens. Even more interesting, the Steelers played four teams in the top six in rushing in 2021 (the Bills and Titans) for a total of six games and went 6–0. If the Steelers continue to get after the quarterback and have a strong secondary, they should be willing to concede some yardage on the ground as long as they’re ultimately getting victories.

Prediction: Changing course a little bit, I’m going to disagree with the scenario. While I think the Steelers will have an improved run defense in 2022, I’m not going to go so far as to put them in the top half of the league. If they end up somewhere 18th to 20th, it should be adequate enough for them with anything better than that truly an added bonus. What may be more important is to not see a drop off in pass defense where they finished ninth in the NFL in 2021. With it being a passing league, if a team is better at defending the pass they can still find success while giving up some rushing yards.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.