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Week 5 Film Study: Tuitt Makes His Presence Felt Against The Falcons

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense put together their best overall performance of the season against the Atlanta Falcons. One of the many reasons for their success was the play of defensive end Stephon Tuitt. From a statistics standpoint, this season has been a disappointment of sorts for Tuitt, as he has yet to record a sack or even a turnover. Yet despite his numbers, his defensive line play in this particular game was part of why Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was uncomfortable in the pocket for much of the game. In addition, other players were the beneficiary of his ability to set the edge and multiple blockers, one such a person was outside linebacker TJ Watt who recorded a team-high 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Not all contributions are recorded on a stat sheet, yet during the course of a game, it can be a difference-maker.

One of the aspects in Tuitt’s game that I noted in my previous film study of him, was how he added new skills to his repertoire. In previous seasons, Tuitt was more accustomed to beating opposing linemen using raw strength. Now, Tuitt has shown some growth in his game by improving his hand play and using different maneuvers.  In this particular instance, uses a swim move to get in the backfield, forcing the Falcons running back to cut back into another lane. Tuitt for much of this game gave the Falcons offense little room to operate on his side.

As noted earlier, some of Tuitt’s teammates were able to cash in on his strong play. In this sequence, Tuitt is shown in 2i-tech alignment. Notice how he and Cameron Heyward are able to push their linemen far enough to close any pocket, leaving Ryan with no room to operate. Even with three Falcons players open, the pressure was too much for him to make any attempt at a pass; Watt finishes the series with a sack.

Perhaps the best example of his dominance in this game came on this particular play. Tuitt once again lineup in 2i-tech. The Falcons is showing a fullback on the right side and a halfback behind Ryan; all indications point to this being a run play on his side. Note the way Tuitt plays this beautiful as he anticipates a brief double team effort by the Falcons center and right guard. Tuitt is able to see the ball carrier and disengage from the blocker and make the play on the Falcons running back for negative yards.

A few months back, I spoke about defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and his philosophies on stopping the run. One of which I noted was the idea of disengaging from the blocker and locating the ball carrier. Tuitt demonstrated this technique beautifully on this play.

 

It is only a matter of time when Tuitt’s strong play materializes on the stat sheet. Even if that does not end up being the case, as long as he continues to demonstrate his ability to take on blockers and get pressures, there is nothing wrong with others reaping the benefits. Down the stretch, they will need Tuitt and others on the defensive line to be as consistent as they were on Sunday if they hope to fully turn this season around.

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