| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Steelers defense doesn't make the grade in 2013 review

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.


Name Snaps Grade

Cam Heyward 845 High Plus

Ziggy Hood 646 High Minus

Brett Keisel 574 Even

Al Woods 223 Plus

Brian Arnfelt 2 Even

Steve McLendon 355 Plus

Hebron Fangupo 13 Even

Lawrence Timmons 1,093 Minus

Vince Williams 405 Minus

Stevenson Sylvester 100 Minus

Larry Foote 59 Minus

Kion Wilson 41 Minus

Terence Garvin 33 Minus

Jason Worilds 792 Plus

Jarvis Jones 646 Minus

LaMarr Woodley 582 High Plus

Chris Carter 85 Minus

Troy Polamalu 1,093 High Plus

Ryan Clark 1,084 Minus

Will Allen 378 Plus

Shamarko Thomas 193 Even

Robert Golden 51 Minus

D. Cromartie-Smith 4 Even

Ike Taylor 1,069 Minus

William Gay 931 High Plus

Cortez Allen 718 Plus

Antwon Blake 5 Even

Curtis Brown 1 Even


Name Snaps Grade

Ben Roethlisberger 1,067 High Plus

Antonio Brown 968 High Plus

Emmanuel Sanders 810 Plus

Jerricho Cotchery 648 High Plus

Markus Wheaton 161 Minus

Derek Moye 53 Even

Heath Miller 916 Minus

David Paulson 189 Minus

Matt Spaeth 132 Minus

David Johnson 75 Even

Michael Palmer 49 Even

Le'Veon Bell 691 Plus

Felix Jones 151 Minus

Jonathan Dwyer 139 Plus

Isaac Redman 55 Minus

L. Stephens-Howling 15 Minus

Will Johnson 173 Even

Marcus Gilbert 965 Even

David DeCastro 963 High Plus

Ramon Foster 855 High Plus

Kelvin Beachum 840 Minus

Fernando Velasco 758 Minus

Mike Adams 485 Minus

Cody Wallace 294 Minus

Guy Whimper 270 Minus

Maurkice Pouncey 8 Even

Shaun Suisham — Plus

Source: Pro Football Focus

Related Stories
By Alan Robinson
Saturday, March 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Tom Brady put up a record 55 points against the Steelers. Calvin Johnson threatened to have 200 yards receiving by halftime. Even Matt Cassel had a big day against them.

But the play that perhaps best illustrated the falloff of the Steelers defense in 2013 — from No. 1 in the league to No. 13 — was former Jeannette star Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard touchdown run for Oakland, easily the longest run ever by an NFL quarterback.

The Steelers slid from No. 2 in rushing defense in 2012 to No. 21, allowing 1,849 yards, the most they've permitted since 1999. With so many high-priced players on his defense allowing such alarmingly high rushing totals, team president Art Rooney II is concerned.

In multiple interviews since the season ended, he frequently has cited the defense's failure to halt the run as being a major disappointment.

“We gave up too many big plays. We fell down into the middle of the league in the strength of defending against the run, which is something historically that we've been in the top five most years,” Rooney said. “We fell off on from what we normally expect on defense, and we need to make sure we address that.”

Only four starters — Steve McLendon, Jason Worilds, Troy Polamalu and Cam Heyward — graded out positively against the run in Pro Football Focus' play-by-play grades. Even the consistent Lawrence Timmons wasn't one of them.

Polamalu was the highest-graded player on defense during a comeback season in which he forced five fumbles and made the Pro Bowl, and Heyward drew high grades across the board in pass and run coverage and pass rushing.

After having strong 2012 seasons, cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Ryan Clark slumped badly. Taylor allowed receivers to catch 71 passes for 1,043 yards and six touchdowns, and he ranked 97th among the league's 110 most-used cornerbacks, down from No. 33.

By far the lowest-rated player on defense was free agent-to-be Ziggy Hood, who graded out next to last among all 3-4 defensive ends.

Cornerback William Gay was the third-highest rated player on defense behind Polamalu and Heyward. Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was fourth after having five sacks in his first six games, but two calf injuries limited him to 146 snaps over the second half of the season, and his future in Pittsburgh is in doubt.

Something Rooney no doubt liked: Rookies Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas graded positively against the run. But fellow rookie Vince Williams graded out negatively after being forced to play more than expected at inside linebacker after the since-released Larry Foote's Week 1 injury.

“I felt we had a good draft last year,” Rooney said. “(They) are guys we expect will come in next year and take that step that you hope comes along with the second year.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
  2. Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
  3. Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
  4. Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
  5. Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
  6. Rookie linebacker Chickillo adjusting to role with Steelers
  7. Analysis: Despite injuries, Steelers well-positioned entering stretch run
  8. Steelers not giving up on wresting AFC North from Bengals
  9. Steelers notebook: Players get back to work after bye
  10. Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward