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Steelers Film Room: Lack of execution and missed opportunities were the story on defense in Week 6

Frustrating would be a way to describe the Steelers performance against Miami and that frustration was caused by a mirage of execution, or lack thereof.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Missed assignments, breakdowns in coverage, dropped interceptions?

Yep pretty much sums up how that game went on the defensive side of the ball.

I know debby downers sometimes don't want to hear it but the team that showed up wasn't the Steelers team that put up over 30 points in 3 of their 4 wins or the team that limited opponents to 16 points and under in all 4 of their wins.


The team that showed up should be arrested for identity theft because that team couldn't execute in the slightest on the defensive side of the ball and did nothing but drop opportunities down the trash.

Let's go ahead and dissect this execution, or lack thereof.


I went over this in the preseason with Artie Burns and while I'm not going to say he was the sole reason why the Steelers couldn't contain the run, I'm starting to become concerned/agitated with these rookie mistakes.

Seriously, stuff like this drives coaches and film watchers like myself coo coo for cocoa puffs. You cannot get caught peeking inside when you are responsible for outside containment. Undisciplined plays like this are what results in long runs on the outside almost all the time, especially when you're the only CB on that side of the field and the strong safety golden is playing closer to the LOS.

I understand Burns is trying to make a play but he's got to stay disciplined in containment because plays like this are things the Patriots and other teams are gonna see on film and will be looking to exploit going forward.

It wasn't just Burns though as 58Steel pointed out. Cockrell had some problems in containment as well and the CB's in general really struggled to contain the run game.

Miami exploited it and they found much success on the outside.

It wasn't just containment though where Burns got exploited.

Breakdown in coverage


I knew when I was watching this play live that somebody in the secondary screwed up.

The Steelers from what I saw seemed to be playing cover 3.

Just for the sake of space and keeping it simple I'm just going to focus on the deep coverage responsibilities of the secondary players in cover 3.

You got the outside CB's Burns and Cockrell that are responsible for their deep 3rd's of the field and the FS Mitchell who's got the deep middle 3rd of the field.

So if you have 3 receivers running deep into those zones, nothing should've happened, right?

I swear I'm not trying to single out Burns but when you abandon your responsibility and play undisciplined football by leaving your zone, you're gonna get put on the spotlight no matter what. Perhaps he didn't know he's in cover 3 on this play, either way it's still a missed assignment in the secondary and breakdown in coverage that led to a huge play on 3rd down, end of story.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh on Burns as he is a rookie and he missed a decent amount of training camp, that said, I didn't notice very many big plays when he had a much more limited snap count. I honestly thought he might be ready to be the guy after the coaching staff promoted him to outside nickel duties but if he's out here missing assignments that are leading to big splash plays, it makes you wonder how long the coaching staff will put up with it and whether they threw him into the fire too soon.

They don't have much behind him so they may have no choice but to keep going with Burns.

Nonetheless, it wasn't just Burns who gave up big plays against Miami in the secondary/. As a matter of fact, William Gay the veteran CB gave up a huge play in the 2nd quarter.

This play is extended for a long time and for a while Gay had excellent coverage on the play. What really bugs me is the inability of the defensive line to finish the play. I don't know what it is but I've seen so many missed sacks by the defensive line this season, not just McCullers on that play. McCullers and the rest of the defensive line has gotta finish because you can't ask your CB's to cover for that long.

I won't lie Gay get's his eyes fixed on the QB and loses track of the receiver but this play went on for a longer than 5 seconds. You can't ask your CB's to cover for 7 to 10 seconds like that, you just can't.

I'll give Gay a pass on this play but that defensive line needs to finish because they're leaving big defensive plays off the table when they fail to wrap up the QB.

I will not excuse Gay from this next play though.

Dropped Interceptions

Ike Taylor disease might need to be quarantined soon this season because there's a massive outbreak going on right now and it doesn't seem to be going away.

Plays like this can change the course of a game

The Steelers were up 8-3 and they had a chance to give their offense excellent field position. The receiver falls down, Gay jumps the route and he drops the pick. Plays like this are why we're 4-2 and not 5-1.

This could've led to the Steelers not abandoning the run so early and they very well might've been able to not get destroyed in time of possession (23:30 to 36:30) by 13 minutes.





It's frustrating but it's time to move on to New England. The Steelers lost their QB and their defense has got to help them out more than ever. One thing is for certain, I can almost guarantee you that there's no way the Steelers are going to show up against New England and execute the way did against Miami.

So much went wrong in that game but so much of what they did or didn't do is fixable and that's probably the one silver lining I can take away from this game.

The Miami game was frustrating but every great journey has some bumps in the road that must be overcome if a team wants to achieve the ultimate goal in the end.

There is still much more football left to play.