The Steelers defense has played teams that have a combined record of 3-15-1. Those teams are the Giants, Broncos, Texans, and the Eagles. The defense has allowed 87 points to those teams through 4 weeks. The real test is coming starting this week with the Browns who are 4-1. Then they have the Titans and the Ravens. All 3 of those teams have a combined record of 11-2. They will not be easy games so the Steelers really need to start cleaning up on the defensive side of the ball this week.
The Steelers are bringing the pressures, but are lacking in the secondary. No team in the past decade has had more pressures than the 2020 Steelers. They currently sit at 89 pressures through 3 weeks. The Steelers are bringing the blitz 52.3% of the time according to Pro Football Focus. The blitz is working for the Steelers because they currently have 20 sacks right now as we speak. They average about 5 sacks per game, but when teams put the ball in the air the Steelers are struggling to contain the receiving game.
The Steelers defense allowed 10-14, 71%, on third down, including some long third-down conversions. They allowed 336 total yards, 242 passing yards, and 94 rushing yards. Travis Fulgham had 13 targets, 10 receptions, 152 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown against the Defense. That is unacceptable for a Steelers team who has talented defensive backs like Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Terrell Edmunds. They're talented enough to clean this up.
According to Pro Football Focus on paper, the Steelers' defense is the best unit the Philadelphia offense has faced to this point, but it was their most efficient passing performance of the season. That’s concerning for Pittsburgh when you consider that the Eagles had an extremely limited receiving corps, a patchwork offensive line, and a quarterback in Wentz who has really struggled early in the season.
During Tomlin's post-press conference after the game, he acknowledged it was a 'hodgepodge,' of things that created issues for them on the defense.
"It was a hodge-podge of things," said Tomlin. "Like I said first, I want to compliment them. They had a good plan, a good execution of plans. They had guys like 13 (Travis Fulgham) stepping up and making combat catches. We had guys in position. They made some plays. They made some plays on the football. Carson made some throws. He stood in there in the face of adversity and made some throws. I don't want to discredit them entirely. Could we be better? Certainly. We had a roughing the passer. We gave up the ball down the middle on a long yardage situation. We had things we need to focus on and do better, but I'd be remiss if I didn't compliment them for their plan and also execution of the plan in some of the areas that I mentioned."
The Steelers have a lot of work ahead of them this week. They will be preparing for a tough AFC North matchup. The Browns are 4-1 and their only loss is from the Ravens. The Browns haven't won at Heinz Field since October 5th, 2003. That is a long time since the Browns have beat the Steelers at Heinz Field. As long as the Steelers clean up their secondary issues this week and maintain their 5 sacks per game on a banged-up Baker Mayfield they should have no issues with the Browns. The Browns, Titans, and Ravens will test the Steelers defense and give us a good picture at how good they really are.