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Why the defense has fallen

Coach

Well-known member
If you're like me the Steelers have set a high bar on their defense. But this season our defense looks to have major problems. We can't rush the passer. Our coverage units are a mess, and when teams want to, they can run on us.
How did it come to this? The best Cowher defenders ( Hampton, Smith, Keisel, Porter, Townsend, Taylor, Polamalu ) have retired. Harrison does not have much time left as a player...he's still our best pass rusher/. Bad GM moves and drafts are now costing us.

A quick summary of the defensive players selected in rounds 1-4 from 2008-2015 drafts.

2008:
Bruce Davis. An absolute bust in round three

2009:
Ziggy H00d. A huge disappointment, now a back up on a bad Jags team
Keenan Lewis was a good pick. Too bad the Steelers let him walk in free agency. So much for retaining your best.

2010:
Jason Worlds. A good player, however he duped the team and retired. Had the Steelers know this they never give him franchise tag money for one year. Because Woridls retired, we don't even get a comp pick. He's out of the NFL.

2011:
Cam Heyward. Our best defensive pick in years. Pro Bowl level player.
Curtis Brown in round three was a bust, and Allen in Round four is likely a back up who's grossly overpaid.

2012:
Spence. A back up, selected in round three. Okay on special teams.

2013:
Jarvis Jones. A disappointment to date, I think he's a bust. Just an okay pass rusher. Too slow for coverage or special teams.
Shark Thomas. The Steelers traded up to get him ( pick #84 overall ) and he looks terrible when healthy

2014:
Shazier. If he can stay healthy he looks like a player.
Tuitt. Waiting a bit for his play to match his hype.


Summary:

The only sure thing for the defense in the past seven drafts for the 2015 season is Heyward.

The Steelers have swung and missed too much in rounds 3-4. These guys are out of the game or backups.

All of the DB's from 2008-2014 are back ups or out of the NFL.

H00d was a bad first round pick, and J Jones is trending that way.

Colbert made a mistake letting Lewis walk, and giving Worilds tag money for one year.

Shazier and Tuitt both need to pan out. If they don't Heyward stands alone as our lone quality pick on defense still on the team in these past seven drafts.
 
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FordFairLane

Well-known member
captain-obvious-south-park.jpg


Wait are you saying the Steelers drafting and development has been very poor since Cowher left? You just blew my mind...
 

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steelhurt

Well-known member
We shall see starting Thursday night and throughout this season exactly where the hell we are with this defense. This could either implode on the Steelers and be the start of a very long season or we may have some surprises in store. We shall see!

I have mentioned before and as recently as this week that the defensive drafts the last nine seasons under Tomlin/Colbert have been anything but promising. Just loo at drafts from 2014 and 2015 when this team was screaming for secondary help. 2014 saw us draft one guy, Shaq Richardson who was cut. Then in 2015 we have one guy on IR (Golson), one we cut and resigned to practice squad, and one in the 7'th that was cut. And I thought Tomlin's strength was defense. Yea, right!
 

Slash#10

Active member
Why not start in 2007 with Tomlin's first two picks were Lawrence Timmons & Lamarr Woodley? I know majority of fans have tunnel vision and can't look beyond their own teams successes or failures. But, if you scroll the list of names that have been drafted in the league starting 4 years ago and later, you'll see the 90% to 95% of no names and a few late round pro bowlers.
 

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steelhurt

Well-known member
Why not start in 2007 with Tomlin's first two picks were Lawrence Timmons & Lamarr Woodley? I know majority of fans have tunnel vision and can't look beyond their own teams successes or failures. But, if you scroll the list of names that have been drafted in the league starting 4 years ago and later, you'll see the 90% to 95% of no names and a few late round pro bowlers.

Lawrence Timmons is a very good player, not a great player. He's solid and dependable but he isn't to be confused with an all pro. Lamarr has eaten himself out of the NFL. He had a few really good seasons and after the contract bought a McDonalds franchise. He's became lazy, un motivated and just plain not any good.
 

Coach

Well-known member
If you want to look at Cowher, lets see 2000-2006. How were his defensive drafts?

Cowher had Polamalu, a pro bowl player and hall of fame bound player, and Ike Taylor, likely a top 4-6 cornerback in franchise history.

Chris Hope was a good starter. He would be our best safety on the 2015 team.

How about Casey Hampton in the middle! That would be a huge upgrade from what we have now/

Bell when he was healthy was great.

Larry Foote was a fair starter.

Fine add 2007 is you wish ( Timmons and Woodley ) , I get to add 1999 then. 1999 was a great draft. A Smith and Joey Porter

I see much better defensive drafting under Cowher don't you?

Cowher picked pro bowl guys at DE, NT, OLB, CB, and S

Tomlin's pro bowl guys....just one. Timmons. Let me know if I missed one.
 

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Punxsutawney

Well-known member
The only reason the Tombert twins still have a job, beyond the play of Roethlisberger, is the drafting of Brown, Bell and Beachum, whom they literally refused to give a chance at LT until they literally had no other choice.

They totally suck at assessing and developing defender and offensive tackle talent, which are rather important things.

I fear the Steelers becoming the like of the Raiders, Jaguars and Browns once Roethlisberger retires, unless Rooney grows a pair.
 

steelhurt

Well-known member
Punxy, that's my biggest fear. When Ben goes so do the Steelers. What QB have we even closely developed? We're relegated to the scrap heap with guys like Vick and Gradkowski.

Ask yourself this question. Could Tomlin have survived had he come here in 2007 if Ben hadn't been here? Lets say we still had Maddox or Kordell. Could Tomlin have survived through nine seasons? I say hell no.
 

Coach

Well-known member
I haven't seen the starting defense play a full game this year. I will reserve judgment.

Last year the schedule was soft and featured some pretty bad QB's

Our pass defense ranked 27th out of 32 teams in 2014.

What is better this year for the defense? Lebeau is gone. So is Woridls and McCain. You can say a healthy Shazier will help but that isn't enough to over come the losses IMO.
 

Slash#10

Active member
Yes, Cowher's philosophy has been defense and I'm not going to takeaway anything from Cowher when it comes to player development from a defensive point of view. It hasn't been until this offseason that Tomlin has allowed himself to be very engaging on the Steeler defense. He didn't pull a Chip Kelly and literally obliterate the existing roster and insert players to play under his own system. All I'm saying is it really isn't as black and white as you are making it out to be. Tons of variables. Most of the league wasn't even running or committed to a 3-4 system so Cowher didn't have challenges at selecting the skill sets he needed in the draft. Now that half the league is running 3-4 it's slim pickings. I say we are 3 years away to see where Tomlin is in his defense now that DL is gone. That's for players to learn the system and for new talent to be brought in. Essential we have a rookie defense from an experience stand point including Keith Butler as DC.

Tomlin was lucky to have an experienced franchise QB, but it wasn't until years late with Tomlin as the HC that Ben finally had a career year that put him near the top of the league. They've loaded him with weapons and they were developed. Bell, Brown, Bryant, Wheaton (Mike Wallace, E. Sanders) weren't first round selections and Ben has two first rounders on the Oline that have performed great.

I think off the field issues plays a huge part in the impact its had on player development. The DE/NT we drafted from the PAC10 who got into legal trouble had the talent, but we didn't have the patience. Same with Chris Rainey and now I am HOPING Bryant doesn't follow the same course.
 

nitsuj1225

Well-known member
You act like every team other than the Steelers have been hitting with every draft pick. If you go back and look at other team's drafts, we're probably about league average with picks sticking. Although hitting big with Bell and Brown obviously explains why our offense is tops in the league while there hasn't been anyone close to those two in terms of impact on the defense. It also comes down to exceptional talent getting old/retiring. Troy gone and had some down years, Ike used to be lockdown and fell off late and is now gone, Deebo is in his late 30's and was gone for a year. 2 former DPOY right there and you wonder why our defense has taken a dive? Look at the Ravens, same thing happened to them when Reed and Ray Ray left...they have been terrible defending the pass the last 2 seasons. Sound familiar? It's pretty tough to replace a player that was the best at his position in the league and expect to maintain that level of play.
 

ark steel

Well-known member
Last year the schedule was soft and featured some pretty bad QB's

Our pass defense ranked 27th out of 32 teams in 2014.

What is better this year for the defense? Lebeau is gone. So is Woridls and McCain. You can say a healthy Shazier will help but that isn't enough to over come the losses IMO.

Tuitt was looking pretty good by year end and, now, has more experience, McCullers has more experience (presumably improved), Boykin should be an upgrade over McCain. If Tuitt is better, that should make the DL, overall, better, which might free up a LB or Heyward to put more pressure on the QB, etc. One weak link on the DL (Cam Thomas) can make the DL look way worse and make the LB's look worse, etc. Allen at CB, if even average, should make the DB group look better, overall.

Same thing happened on the OL a few years ago. Bad LT and the whole line looked horrible. Max Starks (and I don't know anyone who would refer to him as a great LT) comes in and the OL becomes, maybe average, maybe slightly above or below average, but not nearly as horrible as it was.
 

bermudasteel

Well-known member
If you're like me the Steelers have set a high bar on their defense. But this season our defense looks to have major problems. We can't rush the passer. Our coverage units are a mess, and when teams want to, they can run on us.
How did it come to this? The best Cowher defenders ( Hampton, Smith, Keisel, Porter, Townsend, Taylor, Polamalu ) have retired. Harrison does not have much time left as a player...he's still our best pass rusher/. Bad GM moves and drafts are now costing us.

A quick summary of the defensive players selected in rounds 1-4 from 2008-2015 drafts.

2008:
Bruce Davis. An absolute bust in round three

2009:
Ziggy H00d. A huge disappointment, now a back up on a bad Jags team
Keenan Lewis was a good pick. Too bad the Steelers let him walk in free agency. So much for retaining your best.

2010:
Jason Worlds. A good player, however he duped the team and retired. Had the Steelers know this they never give him franchise tag money for one year. Because Woridls retired, we don't even get a comp pick. He's out of the NFL.

2011:
Cam Heyward. Our best defensive pick in years. Pro Bowl level player.
Curtis Brown in round three was a bust, and Allen in Round four is likely a back up who's grossly overpaid.

2012:
Spence. A back up, selected in round three. Okay on special teams.

2013:
Jarvis Jones. A disappointment to date, I think he's a bust. Just an okay pass rusher. Too slow for coverage or special teams.
Shark Thomas. The Steelers traded up to get him ( pick #84 overall ) and he looks terrible when healthy

2014:
Shazier. If he can stay healthy he looks like a player.
Tuitt. Waiting a bit for his play to match his hype.


Summary:

The only sure thing for the defense in the past seven drafts for the 2015 season is Heyward.

The Steelers have swung and missed too much in rounds 3-4. These guys are out of the game or backups.

All of the DB's from 2008-2014 are back ups or out of the NFL.

H00d was a bad first round pick, and J Jones is trending that way.

Colbert made a mistake letting Lewis walk, and giving Worilds tag money for one year.

Shazier and Tuitt both need to pan out. If they don't Heyward stands alone as our lone quality pick on defense still on the team in these past seven drafts.

I have no words...
shaq-finally-gets-it-shaq-gifs.gif
 

AggieSteel

Well-known member
You act like every team other than the Steelers have been hitting with every draft pick. If you go back and look at other team's drafts, we're probably about league average with picks sticking. Although hitting big with Bell and Brown obviously explains why our offense is tops in the league while there hasn't been anyone close to those two in terms of impact on the defense. It also comes down to exceptional talent getting old/retiring. Troy gone and had some down years, Ike used to be lockdown and fell off late and is now gone, Deebo is in his late 30's and was gone for a year. 2 former DPOY right there and you wonder why our defense has taken a dive? Look at the Ravens, same thing happened to them when Reed and Ray Ray left...they have been terrible defending the pass the last 2 seasons. Sound familiar? It's pretty tough to replace a player that was the best at his position in the league and expect to maintain that level of play.

It's not about maintaining "that" level of play, though. It's about maintaining a respectable level of play and showing promise for growth. This defense gets worse every year, shows absolutely nothing to suggest that the young players will bring about improvement, and this year, will probably drop off the "respectable" spectrum altogether the way things look.

I don't think anyone expects mid-2000s level greatness. We just want them to stop getting worse and actually keep us in games.
 

blitzburghv5

Well-known member
If you want to look at Cowher, lets see 2000-2006. How were his defensive drafts?

Cowher had Polamalu, a pro bowl player and hall of fame bound player, and Ike Taylor, likely a top 4-6 cornerback in franchise history.

Chris Hope was a good starter. He would be our best safety on the 2015 team.

How about Casey Hampton in the middle! That would be a huge upgrade from what we have now/

Bell when he was healthy was great.

Larry Foote was a fair starter.

Fine add 2007 is you wish ( Timmons and Woodley ) , I get to add 1999 then. 1999 was a great draft. A Smith and Joey Porter

I see much better defensive drafting under Cowher don't you?

Cowher picked pro bowl guys at DE, NT, OLB, CB, and S

Tomlin's pro bowl guys....just one. Timmons. Let me know if I missed one.

We GET IT MAN !!! Youre a huge Cowher-ette......and you'll spare no post to validate it. But remember, the league changed how defenses defended and basically took the punishing style away, which had been a calling card of this defense. Finding a defense plug like Big Snack again is no easy task, and im quite sure that a couple seasons ago, had he been available we would've snatch up Dontari Poe. But we didn't .....

Lets just be patient and see how this season unfolds. You'll have all season to wave your "I love Cowher" pom-poms.
 

madtacker

Active member
When you get over the fact that Tomlin is not Bill C. than its easier to digest.

If the chin would make himself available today he would be the most sought after coach in the NFL.

Those guys aren't found everyday. That's why he is who he is!!

He may have had issues winning big games, never developing a QB, but he was one of the best.

These next two seasons will say a lot. We are going to see what Tomlin is made of.
 

obxsteeler

Well-known member
Punxy, that's my biggest fear. When Ben goes so do the Steelers. What QB have we even closely developed? We're relegated to the scrap heap with guys like Vick and Gradkowski.

Ask yourself this question. Could Tomlin have survived had he come here in 2007 if Ben hadn't been here? Lets say we still had Maddox or Kordell. Could Tomlin have survived through nine seasons? I say hell no.

Could Cowher have ever won a SB if Rooney hadn't "suggested" he draft Ben?
 

blitzburghv5

Well-known member
It's not about maintaining "that" level of play, though. It's about maintaining a respectable level of play and showing promise for growth. This defense gets worse every year, shows absolutely nothing to suggest that the young players will bring about improvement, and this year, will probably drop off the "respectable" spectrum altogether the way things look.

I don't think anyone expects mid-2000s level greatness. We just want them to stop getting worse and actually keep us in games.

Im hoping that we might have something nice in Shazier, Dupree, Tuitt to add to Heyward and Timmons. Shazier has displayed ability to hit gaps and make impressive tackles....the problem is health. Tuitt has displayed the ability to generate pressure. Dupree im excited about.....ive seen a few splashes in preseason. We really do miss that plug hog in the middle and im hoping we resolve this position with either Big Dan or someone. We have spent major picks on LBs the last three season...they've all been #1 picks.
 

jitter77

Well-known member
The defense has lost its attitude along with losing talent. No one but harrison and heyward put fear into anyone. I think Shazier can be good, but he is more of a finesse guy. Mitchell is a pretty hard hitter, but its either late or illegal half the time. I thought porter would bring some more fire to the D, but so far it has not seemed that way. Note sure if we can blame butler for the lack of developing the LBs or not, but hopefully he is a better coordinator....Nothing can totally make up for a lack of talent, but I think a more aggressive attitude can go a long way.
 

blitzburghv5

Well-known member
Well, we are starting out against the *ahem....best. What amount of confidence could we get on defense if we make the Cheats very pedestrian and one dimensional and take away several scoring opportunities.
 

Steeltime

Right (Adj.) Correct/Left (V) Depart, abandon
Lets just be patient and see how this season unfolds. You'll have all season to wave your "I love Cowher" pom-poms.

Look, the only reason that criticism of Tomlin's defensive picks can be turned into a purported "I love Cowher" statement is because the Steelers have had just 2 coaches the past 23 seasons - Cowher and Tomlin.

I can be critical of Tomlin's defensive picks and not be a "Cowher lover." I can point out deficiencies shown by Jarvis Jones, and Shamarko Thomas, and Cortez Allen, and on and on, because I think the picks were bad, and NOT because I think Cowher walks on water. Right?

I do think it proper, however, to note that in his first 2 drafts, Bill Cowher added the following defensive players: Levon Kirkland, Joel Steed, Darren Perry, Chad Brown, Kevin Henry and Willie Williams. I do so not because I am a "Cowher lover," but simply to point out that a coach and front office can add both stars and depth when drafting in the teens and 20's.
 
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