Hagan mentioned that Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer recognized things in the Steelers’ defensive scheme from several years ago when he played for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Steelers Pro Bowl safety Ryan Clark agrees with what Hagan said about Pittsburgh’s defense, but said that the defensive meltdown versus Oakland wasn’t because of predictability, but was due to lack of execution. Clark added that going up against a no-huddle offense doesn’t enable their defense to change personnel and keeps them from changing defensive plays.
I whole-heartedly agree with Clark when he says that it comes down to execution. If predictability were an issue, then teams would have caught on to their scheme a long time ago.
Over the past 12 seasons, Pittsburgh’s defense has ranked in the top ten in the NFL in defense. In addition, in the eight years of Pittsburgh’s defense being run by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, the Steelers have finished first in the league in defense four times.
Now if the defense is so predictable, why is it that the Steelers are consistently one of the best defensive units in the league year after year?
The defensive struggles aren’t caused by the team’s “predictability,” but it is due to the absence of key players and a lack of depth. Safety Troy Polamalu and linebackers James Harrison and Stevenson Sylvester have played in one game combined this season (Polamalu being the only one to play in Week 1).
Once the Steelers get their Pro Bowlers back in the lineup, the team’s chemistry should kick in and we’ll start to see the defense that everyone is use to seeing in the Steel City. So don’t push the panic button just yet.
However, if all of the key ingredients are mixed in and we still see the inconsistent play from the defense, then there will be something to worry about.
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