Bag Breakdown: Steelers Vs Saints


The Pittsburgh Steelers make me a busy man. Breaking down six more sacks the team allowed in last Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints, making it the first time since 1989 the team has been sacked six times in consecutive games. .

1. 1st and 10, 9:49 1st. 11 staff. Five blocks versus five rushes.

Nice call here from the Saints, bringing in the #19 late on a nickel push. The Steelers use playaction and Najee Harris doesn’t see it – understandably – so he’s not giving up on his mission to take it back. Pat Freiermuth heads for the flat and with the line sliding down, the nickel rusher is free.

A little hard to see on the end zone view, but a little odd no receiver was “hot” here. Freiermuth never even got his head in the flat, which he normally would since it’s a short, quick throw, while WR Gunner Olszewski never looked back when he saw the lightning turn, although it was running a deep turn.

Pickett can’t do much here. Just eat the ball. And I see no reason to blame the line here with the way they were asked to slide. Just a good call although I still wonder why Freiermuth never understood. I’m sure there is Something the Steelers could have done here but I’ll credit the Saints on this one.

Blame: Defensive scheme

2. 3rd and 5, 2:26 2nd. 11 staff. Six blocks versus four rushes.

Disappointing every time you keep six against four and your quarterback is always crushed. Pittsburgh has struggled with stunts the past few weeks, dating back to the Dolphins game, and they’re back here. LB and RDE launch a game and it’s just a mess. Moore came off the track, the free LB/crasher, while the looping DE was pitted against poor RB Jaylen Warren.

The ground rule is discovered first begins the slide and with the NT’s head held high on C Mason Cole, Kevin Dotson is right to walk away initially. But with the NT slipping away and nothing coming back to him, Dotson has to keep his eyes peeled and look for work. He doesn’t even try and finds himself in no man’s land as Pickett gets run over. If he had his eyes back, he might have been able to at least help here on the DE, even if it didn’t prevent the sacking.

As we wrote in our scouting report, the Saints run a lot of third-place games with a one-on-one NT and the Steelers don’t seem prepared for that with their slide. They are in addition to BOB protection (big on big, back on back) with the back on the LB, the LT on the RDE. But with the game, that changes. Maybe they were in “man” protection where no stunts would be passed on, but when Moore is cast, everything changes.

While I was review of Dotson in my recent movie theatre, I don’t think he could have done anything to prevent the sack, provided he was right with his initial slide (and I believe he was). The LB is always free. I will also have a rare “blame” on OL coach Pat Meyer, who did not put his team in a good position to manage the stunt. A few games later, again with NT heads held high, you can see them switching protection and not dragging Dotson and they get up. Dotson actually does a good job here allowing Pickett to get his way. This will be the second clip below that you can compare. But at the end of the day, it’s coaching.

Blame: Pat Meyer

3. 1st and 10, :05 2nd. 11 staff. Five blocks against three men rush.

I never want to be sacked in a three-way race, even though it’s an end-of-half situation. Still, Pickett tries to run when he doesn’t need to. Mobility is nice but it can really mess with your blockers. The defenders have a vision on the QB, not on your line. And Pickett runs into trouble, steps up, tries to bail out and hits himself against RT Chukwuma Okorafor. The second time this season, Pickett literally ransacked.

I want to point out that I don’t know what the Steelers are trying to accomplish here. Look at the routes. Five seconds left does not allow for a long throw to the sideline as half time will expire. This is not a lateral situation or a Hail Mary. It’s a… normal game. So I don’t know what Pittsburgh was trying to accomplish here. Still, it’s on Pickett.

Blame: Kenny Pickett

4. 1st and 10, 9:51 3rd. 11 staff. Five blocks against four men rush.

Red zone bag. Still a killer. LG Kevin Dotson with poor back technique on his ‘off body’ bag against the 3T. Under Meyer, the rule is never to back down and give ground. Off-body set means you are flat. Here, Dotson backs off and doesn’t have a good meaningful first touch, doubling his punch a bit as the No. 93 swims. Dotson doesn’t bring his feet to slide and mirror and gets beaten, allowing inside pressure that creates the bag.

Pickett was looking for George Pickens in the seam on a tight window throw. Looks like he’s about to throw it, but the pressure forces him to drop the ball and bail. Maybe he should have stood up straight and shot anyway, but the pressure certainly had an impact. This one is about Dotson, pure and simple.

Blame: Kevin Dotson

5. 3rd and 2, 14:08 4th. 11 staff. Six blocks against four men rush.

Lots of sacks when Pittsburgh had numbers. I show you the aerial and end zone views below. Here you can see Pickett getting too frantic in the pocket. Looking to run left, then back up, then try to run to his right, then up, dive and grab the bag.

Although it’s a dangerous game to play, George Pickens looks pretty open as this play extends into the end zone. But Pickett looks for nothing but rushing and he started running despite not feeling any pressure. This is one of those examples that Matt Canada cited of him overdoing it a bit and taking a bad sack. It’s on him.

Blame: Kenny Pickett

6. 2nd and 8, 7:04 4th. 11 staff. Five blocks + RB chip against four men.

Pretty straightforward here. RT Chukwuma Okorafor is rejected by the LDE. Okorafor runs into Pickett, whose legs are pulled out, and he falls. Okorafor was just passed here and his lack of power/strength shows on this rep. This one is on him.

Blame: Chukwuma Okorafor

Breakdown of the bag (game)

Kenny Picket: 2
Defensive scheme: 1
Patrick Meyer: 1
Kevin Dotson : 1
Chukwuma Okorafor : 1

Distribution of bags (season)

Kenny Pickett: 6.5
Mitch Trubisky: 4.0
Kevin Dotson: 3.0
Defensive Schematic/Cover: 3.0
Chukwuma Okorafor: 2.5
Dan Moore Jr.: 2.5
Matt Canada: 2.0
Mason Cole: 1.5
Najee Harris: 1.0
Pat Meyer: 1.0

Distribution of penalties (game)

None. Good job, gang.

Breakdown of penalties (season)

Kevin Dotson: 7
Dan Moore Jr.: 6
James Daniels: 3
Chukwuma Okorafor : 3


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