Soft and Unacceptable?

The Steelers ranked 10th in rushing yards allowed for the 2017-2018 season, not great but also not that bad when you see it on paper. Dive a little deeper however and you’ll find over the last six games they allowed 133.5 yards per game. During that stretch, the Steelers were ranked second to last in the NFL while taking the crown for the worst team in yards per carry, allowing just over five yards. Granted, this all came without Ryan Shazier, but we have a long season(s) without him on the field, and that changes everything.

As a Steelers fan, it’s not hard to see that the run is what did us in and ended our season against Jacksonville in the Divisional Round allowing 164 yards on the ground with four rushing touchdowns, three coming from Leonard Fournette.  This game was a complete copycat from week 5 against Jacksonville allowing 231 yards on the ground with two end zone visits for Fournette. Want another gut wrenching memory? What about week 3 against Chicago? Over 200 yards on the ground with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen both averaging over six yards per carry. I don’t think I need to remind you how that game ended in overtime either.

If we, as fans, can see and feel how the run defense was last season, I can only imagine how the players and staff felt and are still feeling. T.J. Watt was quoted calling the run defense, “unacceptable,” while Art Rooney II left it at a mere, “soft.” So what is the answer to all this heartache we feel now and the TV screaming we did last year? 4-3.

We have seen some plays coming from the “Quasi 4-3” throughout last season, but the Steelers have been for the most part a 3-4 defense. Whether it was Joey Porter, Larry Foote, James Farrior, and Clark Haggans in 2005 or Arthur Moats, Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons, and Jarvis Jones in 2015; we have for the majority of our time ran 3-4.  So in the 2018 season are we going to see Keith Butler and the Steelers D run 4-3 as our default?

A lot questions hang in the balance as to how our defense is going to line up, and who is going to start the four (or three) linebacker positions. I’d like to hear what Steelernation has to say about the speculation of changing to a 4-3 dominant defensive scheme. As far as my opinion, I just want to see the boys do what I know they can, and that’s win a championship.

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