Monday, September 15, 2014

The Steelers' defense doesn't sack the QB or force turnovers

Antwon Blake & Co. struggled vs. the Panthers
in the pre-season game at Heinz Field.
It's been only a few weeks since the Steelers hosted the dreaded Carolina Panthers in their annual meaningless final pre-season match-up.

Because so few regulars played in that game and the coaches kept things vanilla, it's impossible to take much out of that dreadful August 28th exhibition and extrapolate how the two squads may fair Sunday night (prime time! yippee! ugh) in Charlotte, N.C.

Maybe even Greg Hardy will play for the Panthers! Something for Carolina fans to look forward to!

This past Sunday, Carolina starting QB Cam Newton played for the first time this season in the Panthers' win at home over the enigmatic yet problematic Detroit Lions, and Newton did okay. Trailing 7-6 in the third quarter, Newton led a scoring drive, completing five of six passes, including a nice 14-yard TD throw to Jason Avant. On the day, Newton went 24-34 passing for 281 yards, one TD and no interceptions.

The Lions' formidable defensive front sacked Newton five times, but he shouldn't have to worry too much about getting sacked by a Steelers defense that has just two on the season and has forced zero turnovers in the first games (vs. Cleveland and Baltimore).

The lack of turnovers by the Steelers is a point that's been hammered on many people the past few days, and rightly so.  It's an alarming trend.

In each of the past three seasons, the Steelers' defense failed to record as many as 20 turnovers. If the Steelers fail to record 20 turnovers this year, the fourth straight year, they will be the first team in NFL history to go four straight seasons without forcing at least 20 turnovers in any one of those years.

Something's wrong. It's either the talent or the scheme, and possibly both, which is really bad. Any way you look at it, the sample size is large enough and has been compiled for long enough to conclude this defense doesn't sack the quarterback or force turnovers with any consistency or forcible impact.

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