Steelers are hoping to tackle their problems on defense
Ike Taylor has been through it before and knows there is no magic solution, no new innovative defensive scheme, to fix it.
Sometimes missed tackles just happen.
“When you are 0-4, it's magnified,” Taylor said.
And when those missed tackles result in explosive plays that decide the outcomes of the games, they're even more scrutinized.
The Steelers have two weeks to try to figure out their tackling woes as they started their bye week Tuesday with a tackle-free practice. The Steelers will practice Wednesday before taking off the rest of the week.
“There's no excuses other than we need to bring people to the ground,” safety Troy Polamalu said.
One of the reasons the Steelers have been the No. 1-ranked defense the past two years and four of the past six seasons under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is because of sure tackling.
The Steelers averaged 72 missed tackles per season over the past five years. This season they are third-worst in the NFL and are on pace for 166 missed tackles.
“It is unacceptable,” linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. “You can't let those things happen. We need to straighten these things out now. We have to wrap up better, swarm to the ball.”
They need to do something because those missed tackles are leading to game-changing plays.
The Steelers allowed five plays of 20 yards or longer against the Vikings, including three of more than 50 yards. A LeBeau-led Steelers defense never has allowed that many big plays in a game.
“It's affecting the outcome of football games, so obviously there's a level of concern regarding it,” coach Mike Tomlin said.
The Steelers have allowed five plays of 50 yards or longer this season, and three are result of missed tackles:
• Matt Forte's 55-yard run in a Week 3 loss to Chicago was a result of a Clark missed tackle.
• Greg Jennings' 70-yard touchdown reception in Week 4 was helped by missed tackles by Cortez Allen and William Gay.
• Adrian Peterson' 60-yard touchdown run was because of four missed tackles — by Vince Williams, LaMarr Woodley, Taylor and Timmons.
“Tackling, for the most part, has to do with focus and attitude,” Polamalu said. “At this level, that's what tackling has to do with.”
The biggest problem with missed tackles have come from an unlikely place: their secondary. The Steelers historically have been a good tackling secondary under LeBeau.
That's not the case this year, as the secondary is responsible for 20 of the Steelers' 41 missed tackles.
“We make a lot of plays in space that, when I watch film, other teams don't make,” said Clark, who is tied for the team lead with five missed tackles. “It is a big reason why we have been the No. 1 defense in run for many years. Runs do break, and runs do get to the secondary, but we have always done a good job of getting people down.”
Coincidentally, Tomlin decided during training camp to use one practice period every day to work on live tackling. It's something that he never had asked his team to do before and something that's rarely done in the league.
“We have struggled before, and we are struggling right now,” Taylor said. “It is something we have to fix.”
To Taylor, it has to be fixed immediately.
“It is like when you are going to school and the bully keeps picking on you,” Taylor said. “Are you going to keep letting him pick on you, or are you going to fight it out? We are going to fight it out.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Worth of nickel rising in NFL
- Starkey: Can Steelers’ Mitchell find Carolina cure?
- Play to watch: Inside zone read slant/bubble
- Steelers notebook: Panthers LB Kuechly making an impression
- Robinson: Study shows NFL troublemakers don’t get hurt in wallet
- Moore hopes to see red (zone) in Steelers debut
- Steelers’ Timmons looks to reverse defense’s struggles
- Steelers notebook: Ravens DL fined for hit on Roethlisberger
- Steelers’ Polamalu relying on smarts as physical skills decline
- Steelers notebook: RT Gilbert not in danger of losing his job
- Steelers defense a long way from ‘greatest of all time’