What a game. What a win. The Steelers thrilling 38-35 victory over the Oakland Raiders, a team racing along side Pittsburgh for an AFC wildcard spot, was mostly an offensive affair. In a game where the two teams combined for over 1,000 total yards and nearly 7 yards per play, there wasn't much defense to go around. Nonetheless, I want to take a deeper look at how the Steelers edge rushers performed.
This past weekend I wrote my first piece for Behind the Steel Curtain. It introduced the edge rusher charting project that I have been working on since the summer, Pressure Production, and broke down the performance of Steelers edge rushers up to this point in the season. Now that you have a look at they have been performing this season it will be easier to contextualize their performances for the rest of the season.
You could probably guess from the high score and offensive production, but the edge rusher performance from the Steelers was sub-par. Pressure Production will allow us to take a more in depth look at where they had success and where they were unaffected.
Situational Success Rates: If you are looking at this part of the chart, you would think Moats had an outstanding game. That may not be the case, but more on that later. Moats had a very average success rate of 33.3% on edge attempts. Exactly the same success rate as Moats had over the four first half games I charted. The rest of his Situational Success Rates also look very similar to his first half of the season results. Moats carried over a 50% success rate on inside rushes, albeit on an extremely limited 2 play sample. His One v One success rate of 44.4% improved slightly on his first half success rate of 38.3% and his Double Team success rate remained at 0%. The similarity of all these numbers leads me to believe that Moats will probably remain performing in a similar fashion for the rest of the season
Reason for Pressure: This is the part of the chart where is starts to go south. Moats looks to be a consistently good producer from his success rates, but that just is not the case. He is very consistent, but his performance is skewed heavily due to being left unblocked on an absurdly high amount of his pressures. Half of his 4 pressures against Oakland came when unblocked, which only raised his unblocked pressure percentage to just under 32% on the year. The next closest player has been left unblocked on 18.8% of his pressures. That massive discrepancy will leave me nervous for how well Moats will produce in the future.
Pressure Conversion: Moats continued his disturbing trend of failing to convert pressures into sacks. Granted, the sample size of only two pressures is a small one, but nonetheless pressures can only be so valuable unless the quarterback is brought to the ground.
Situational Success Rates: Jones had a more impressive game than I thought he would against a good offensive line like Oakland's. Due to the nature of how he plays, Jones usually struggles against better offensive lines where his relentlessness doesn't give him as much of an advantage. All of Jones' eight pass rush reps came on the edge against a single blocker. He had success on 25% of those attempts, which is lower than his season averages of 30.3% and 29.3%, respectively, but better than Bud Dupree's. You could even make the case that he had just as good of a game as Arthur Moats.
Reason for Pressure: Out of Jones' two pressures, only one of them was an earned pressure. I explained this in my introduction piece, but earned pressures are all those that aren't due to coverage or being left unblocked. Jones' one unearned pressure came from being left unblocked and his one earned pressure came on a bull rush. Throughout the first half of the season only 16.7% of Jones' pressures came from bull rushes. His pressures were evenly distributed, though, so those 2 pressures were the second most out of any classification.
Conversion Rate: A 0% conversion rate shouldn't be an unusual thing for Jones, as his skill-set doesn't lend itself to efficiently converting pressures, but that surprisingly isn't the case. Jones has a 16.7% conversion rate, which is one of the highest success rates out of the 21 players charted.
Situational Success Rates: Against a strong Raiders offensive line Dupree had a disappointing game. On edge attempts, Dupree had success on 25% attempts, the exact same rate as Jarvis Jones. He continued his trend of failing to create pressures on inside rushes, losing on both of his two attempts, which increases the total to 0% success on 8 attempts. On attempts where Dupree faced a single blocker he had a significantly lower success rate than he did over the first half of the year. His 22.2% was nearly 10 percentage points lower than the 32% he had maintained. Dupree had one attempt versus multiple blockers and he turned it into his fourth double team attempt without a pressure. Overall, Dupree turned in a 20% success rate that was worse than either Jones or Moats, and also his worst charted performance of the season.
Reason for Pressure: All three of the Steelers edge rushers charted in this game had at least one of their pressures come from being left unblocked. Just like Jarvis Jones, 1 of Dupree's 2 pressures were due to this. His other pressure came from a shoulder dip on the edge. From examining his skills you wouldn't think he would have much success from shoulder dips. Surprisingly, 25% of his pressures came from shoulder dips, although most of those were most likely due to him beating slow footed offensive tackles.
Conversion Rate: Dupree has had an extremely high conversion rate up to this point in the season, as his 18.8% was tied for the lead among the 21 players charted. He was unable to continue that success against the Raiders, as he failed convert both of his 2 pressures, but I don't expect his lack of success in this area to continue for long.
The Steelers pass rush had been surprisingly strong up to this point in the season. From the charting that I had done over the first half of the season, I suspected that their success would continue over the second half of the season. The Raiders have had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL this season, so don't let this game sway your opinion on Moats, Jones, and Dupree too much one way or the other.