In a recent interview published on Steelers.com, Mike Tomlin shared his thoughts on why he is not worried about the fact that Pittsburgh’s defense has been unable to force turnovers and create “splash plays” lately:
I’m not concerned at all [about the lack of splash plays], to be quite honest with you. When we’re not moving the football and scoring points, then your opponent can play ping-pong if you will. The Titans ran the ball 42 times, and it’s not like they were having a great success because they were under 3.0 yards per carry. The Titans didn’t expose themselves to the potential of splash plays defensively. That’s why it’s important that we score so our defense can have the opportunity to create those kinds of plays.
Oh that Mike Tomlin, he’s always good for a ridiculous comment, isn’t he “Steeler Nation?”
While Tomlin has a point that the Steelers’ offense must shoulder some of the load for this team’s success, it was not like Tennessee’s offense was in comfortable situations throughout last Sunday’s game.
The Steelers could have stopped Jackie Battle on a 4th and 1 play on the Titans’ almost seven minute drive before half time, but they failed to do so. Then they allowed Chris Johnson to run for three yards on a 3rd and 2 later in the drive before Battle helped the Titans take the lead 7-2 with a touchdown run.
On Tennessee’s next scoring drive, Pittsburgh’s defense allowed Jake Locker to convert a 3rd and 15 with a pass over the middle to a wide-open Delanie Walker. Three plays later they folded on a 3rd and 13 after Locker found Nate Washington for 14 yards.
The Steelers’ defense also failed to capitalize in some big situations last Sunday, and one could argue that their lack of pocket collapse and inability to stop the run also factored into their lack of a “splash play” and turnovers. Tennessee knew that they could gain first downs when they needed to do so, and they called relatively safe plays for Locker because Pittsburgh’s defense could not stop them in big situations.
I know I would be worried about the defense’s inability to consistently collapse the pocket, and it does not help that most of the members of the secondary have hands of stone either. Without pressure and effective third-down defensive schemes, the Steelers’ defense will continue to struggle to force turnovers and create big plays.
Quarterbacks around the league know that they can “dink-and-dunk” Dick LeBeau’s zone defense to death, and those quick and high percentage throws limit the amounts of sacks and turnovers for an opposing offense is capable of committing.
Whether he wants to admit it or not, or if he just wants to place the entirety of the blame squarely on the offense, Tomlin should be concerned about his defense’s lack of “splash plays.”
Then again, should anyone expect any different from the person who recently said that his team’s performance was “not all bad” in Pittsburgh’s ugly 16-9 loss against Tennessee?
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