With LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown gone, will ‘D’ again be Steelers identity? | TribLIVE.com

With LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown gone, will ‘D’ again be Steelers identity?

Chris Adamski
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, left, and defensive coordinator Keith Butler walk together during an NFL football practice at the team’s training facility, Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

For each of the past five seasons, the Steelers have had a better ranking in total offense than in total defense. How rare is that for a franchise far more identified for its defense? The Steelers’ ‘D’ ranked higher than its offense 58 of the previous 74 seasons, according to pro-football-reference.com.

But is the defense ready to reclaim its role? The gap seems to be beginning to close.

The Steelers ranked sixth in yards allowed last season (the offense, fourth), and by far the biggest additions to the roster were on defense: free-agent signings Mark Barron and Steven Nelson and No. 10 overall draft pick Devin Bush.

The offense lost two All-Pro talents in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

Can the defense make a leap to one of the league’s best?

“Yeah,” outside linebacker Bud Dupree said, “because of the additions … We’ve kind of all meshed together.”

Barron and Bush add speed and playmaking to the middle of the defense. Nelson teams with Joe Haden to give the Steelers two veteran established and reliable cornerbacks for the first time in years. There are Pro Bowlers at outside linebacker and on the defensive line.

The Steelers have finished among the top six in yardage allowed the past two seasons, but they ranked 16th in points allowed last season.

“I think we’ve got a top defense,” defensive end Stephon Tuitt said. “I just think we have to do a couple more things to tweak some things, and we can be better to help us get there.”

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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
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