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Tim Benz: For Steelers defense, talk is cheap when it comes to turnovers | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz: For Steelers defense, talk is cheap when it comes to turnovers

Tim Benz
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Vince Williams returns an interception for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Panthers Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at Heinz Field.

Every Steelers fan should agree with what inside linebacker Vince Williams tweeted over the weekend.

To a point.

That’s all true.

Now maybe Williams and his fellow Steelers defensive players should do something about it.

For as much complaining as there was about the Steelers defense in 2018, it was sixth-best in football with 327 yards allowed per game. It led the NFL (along with Kansas City) with 52 sacks. Its 22.5 points allowed per game was exactly in the middle of league in 16th place.

Yet, the Steelers defense created only 15 turnovers last season. That was 29th in the NFL.

Getting the ball back is part of playing defense, too. As Williams alludes, it might be an even bigger part of the game than what has been the case in years past.

Therefore, as is so often true with the Steelers in the Mike Tomlin era, how about a little less talk and a little more action?

Williams has clearly identified the problem. And something tells me this isn’t an epiphany that struck him while sitting on his couch in May. I’m sure Keith Butler and his defensive pupils were well aware of their deficiencies in this area last year, but the discussion surrounding forcing more turnovers never manifested in results.

Actually, the more valid indication of success is turnover margin as opposed to just creating turnovers. Pittsburgh’s turnover differential was minus-11 last season, with the offense contributing 26 giveaways, seventh-most in the league. As a result, the offense deserves some heat, too.

Only four teams in the NFL — Arizona, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and San Francisco — had a worse turnover differential.

Like the Steelers, none of them made the playoffs. The seven best teams in turnover margin all qualified for the postseason at plus-8 or better.

Meanwhile, of the top nine teams in takeaways, five clubs made the postseason and four didn’t.

Williams had one turnover last year. It was a good one.

But in his 742 other snaps last year — 71% of the team’s defensive total — he didn’t help to create another.

So, like everyone else, Williams can do more himself.

Keep singing this song, Vince. Just remember the lyrics once the whistle blows.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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