Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Must Get Aggressive in 2013

By Curt Popejoy
Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Going back over the 2012 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have multiple spots where they can improve for the upcoming season. From a schematic point of view, both sides of the football need to make changes in the play-calling  But let’s talk a little about what happened last season in terms of the defensive play-calling, and what needs to happen in 2013 if they want to improve on last season’s 8-8 record.

If you only looked at the stats, you might think that the Steelers defense played really well. They ranked no. 1 in yards allowed and no. 6 in points allowed, both of which are excellent numbers. But, some of the numbers were well below average, and attributed greatly to this team losing eight games.

The numbers I am thinking about related to sacks and turnovers. In 2012, the Steelers only forced 20 total turnovers including 10 interceptions. When you consider that half of those interceptions came from inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons and backup cornerback Cortez Allen, you understand that there are problems.

You add in 37 sacks, which ranked the Steelers 15th in the NFL las year, and it’s pretty clear that what the Steelers have traditionally done well, they did very poorly in 2012. Not getting timely sacks or turnovers meant teams were able to keep drives allowed, and when the Steelers offense couldn’t score, it didn’t take much for other teams to come out on top.

How it is to be fixed? Well, drafting linebacker Jarvis Jones in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft is a start. But beyond that, this team has to get back to a more aggressive stance. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is the architect of one of the most original and creative defensive systems in football, but in 2012 it looked like a shell of its former self.

The zone blitzes, exotic pressures and making teams never know where the extra rushers are coming from was almost non-existent last year. I understand there were injuries and that impacted what the staff could do, but this year, there are no excuses. The offense struggled last season, and that put more pressure on the defense and to be frank, they fell flat.

I want to see more aggressive play-calling and more chances being taken in 2013.  It’s time for the return of the Steel Curtain.

Curt covers the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL draft, and college football for Rant Sports. Connect with Curt on Twitter @nfldraftboard.

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