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2015 Steelers season scenarios: Defense tallies 40 sacks on the season

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The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't gotten to the quarterback with regularity the past three seasons, will this year be the year they reach the 40 sack mark for the first time since 2011?

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Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp on July 25th, and we are digging up the '32 Scenarios in 32 Days' segment to help us all pass the time. Once a day we will be drafting a potential 2015 season scenario, telling you why it will happen, why it won't and giving you important keys for the scenario to take place.

Scenario: The Pittsburgh Steelers defense will tally 40 sacks in the 2015 regular season.

Why it will happen: The Steelers defense is almost an enigma entering the 2015 season. Gone are Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel, and with them is the departure of long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Keith Butler might be the biggest reason the Steelers will get to the quarterback with more efficiency, and although we don't know exactly what Butler's defense will look like next year, we know he plans on allowing the front seven to get after the quarterback.

On top of scheme, the Steelers seem to have some of the thoroughbreds ready to get the team back to the 40 sack mark for the first time since 2011 when the defense notched 42 sacks that season. Cameron Heyward tied for the team lead with 7.5 sacks in 2014, James Harrison, despite his age and missing plenty of time, had 5.5 sacks and Arthur Moats brought 4 sacks to the table in a part-time role.

If Butler is willing to let his players, especially Heyward, Steve McLendon and Stephon Tuitt, rush the quarterback more often, the Steelers could see increased sack totals from their defensive line, which could ultimately lead to more pass rushing lanes for the linebackers, and 40 sacks.

Why it won't happen: Dick LeBeau blitzed in 2014. He blitzed more than the casual fan realizes, but was extremely ineffective. Butler plans on engaging his front seven more in 2015, but with a shoddy secondary in the back end it could be all for nothing. Last season saw quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and even Brian Hoyer pick apart the Steelers secondary with short, quick passes before the pass rush could get to them.

If they are able to force quarterbacks into their second, third and fourth reads on a given play, it will lead to more pressure and ultimately more sacks on opposing quarterbacks, but that might be asking a lot for the Steelers' secondary. The stat lines for Harrison, Moats and Heyward are great, but the team is also losing 7.5 sacks in recently retired Jason Worilds. Making up 7.5 sacks doesn't just show up through the NFL Draft.

On top of scheme and Worilds' retirement, the Steelers lack quality depth along the front seven. The training camp battles at defensive end and outside linebacker will be intriguing mainly because the team doesn't have much depth at those positions. After Tuitt and Heyward, the team is looking at Cam Thomas and/or Clifton Geathers. After Moats would be rookie Bud Dupree and behind Jarvis Jones is 37-year old Harrison. The team scheme might not mean much if the players can't perform and win their one-on-one matchups to garner 40 sacks in 2015.

Keys: The main key for this scenario to come to light is Keith Butler's system matching the personnel on the field. Without such veterans as Keisel, Polamalu and Taylor, it will be up to Butler to put a system in place which will have his players in position to succeed on a week-by-week basis. If allowing Tuitt, McLendon and Heyward to get after the quarterback will lead to more sacks and pressure on opposing QBs, then Butler should be follow the words of Hall of Fame and legendary coach Chuck Noll's advice and do, "Whatever it takes". If Butler does that, the team could finally get back to having 40 or more sacks in a season. If not, 40 sacks seems like an extremely lofty goal.