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Steelers planning to play more man coverage this year

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The Steelers drafted a pair of cornerbacks with experience playing press coverage this year, something that signaled a change in philosophy in the secondary after getting blown out by Tom Brady and the Patriots while mainly employing zone looks in the AFC title game.

Cam Sutton and Brian Allen join last year’s first-round pick Artie Burns as players experienced in that defensive style and Burns said that it’s not a coincidence.

“Every team that’s won Super Bowls the last couple of years has been able to play man,” Burns said, via ESPN.com. “We want to be a team to play man, get the pressure on the quarterback and attack coverage downfield. … It’s always some opening in a zone defense. It’s someone who missed a drop, or it’s always some group in a zone defense. To be able to play man, to get a guy right in someone’s chest with the pressure, it affects the quarterback a little bit.”

The Steelers drafted linebacker T.J. Watt in the first round to help with the pressure aspect of the approach Burns laid out and they’ll need better work on both the edges and in the secondary if their defense is going to fare better in big spots this time around.

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17 Responses to “Steelers planning to play more man coverage this year”
  1. nhpats says: May 31, 2017 2:57 PM

    Gronk, Edleman and Cooks approve of this approach

  2. ridnaway says: May 31, 2017 3:21 PM

    So do A.J. Green, John Ross and Tyler Eifert.

  3. pburghballin says: May 31, 2017 3:29 PM

    @nhpats – I don’t see how they could approve of it any more than they “approve” of the zone defense which they seem to torch every single time they play and the Steelers run out that zone defense against them. The one time in the past decade the Steelers ran predominantly (not all) man defense in a game against the Pats the Steelers won. And yes, Tom Brady was the QB for that game lol. It was a couple years back, not all that long ago, during the regular season. Can’t remember the exact year.

    And before anyone starts in…NO, I’m not saying that if the Steelers would have ran a man, or even man-zone, defense against the Pats in this past years AFCCG that they would have won…but they would have given themselves a better chance at it. It’s good to see the coaching staff finally realizing this and doing something about it.

  4. dlc1224 says: May 31, 2017 3:46 PM

    Before gronk approves of anything he gotta get on the field first

  5. TheCakeIsALie says: May 31, 2017 3:51 PM

    And yes, Tom Brady was the QB for that game lol. It was a couple years back, not all that long ago, during the regular season. Can’t remember the exact year.
    ————-

    That was almost 6 years ago and you did beat him one other time in his career, so there’s that.

    Completly agree with you, however. Two of my best friends are Steeler fans and they really struggle watching 100% zone and the blank stare on Tomlin’s face.

    Good luck this season.

  6. originalsteelcurtain says: May 31, 2017 3:51 PM

    A much needed change of philosophy for Butler and Co. Cover 2 works again middle of the road QBs like Dalton and Alex Smith. Elite QB’s like Brady and Rodgers can routinely shred a zone.

  7. nhpats says: May 31, 2017 3:56 PM

    dlc1224 says:
    May 31, 2017 3:46 PM
    Before gronk approves of anything he gotta get on the field first

    ————-

    Gronk helped the Patriots in last year’s AFCCG as much as Bell helped the Steelers…..

  8. Nofoolnodrool says: May 31, 2017 4:08 PM

    Gronk, Edleman and Cooks approve of this approach

    25 12

    First troll is the worst troll.

  9. jman967 says: May 31, 2017 4:13 PM

    dlc1224 says:
    May 31, 2017 3:46 PM
    Before gronk approves of anything he gotta get on the field first

    ————-

    Gronk helped the Patriots in last year’s AFCCG as much as Bell helped the Steelers…..

    ———————–

    It was actually less seeing as Gronk didn’t even sniff the field. But point kinda made….I think….Yeah…..

  10. tedmurph says: May 31, 2017 4:35 PM

    The Pats offense added Cooks and Gronk. The #1 scoring defense in the NFL is better this year on paper. Particularly with the addition of Gilmour. Good luck. Always reason to hope, I guess. The Raiders are more of a threat.

  11. bobthebillsfan says: May 31, 2017 4:47 PM

    Despite the fact that Trip Tomlin often looks clueless he has had great success with the Steelers in his 10 seasons as HC. He has made the playoffs 7/10 years and won Super Bowl XLIII. This is a much needed change as his playoff record the last 3 years is only 3-3 and offenses (especially Brady) have carved up the Steeler secondary. I expect the Steelers to win the AFCN again this year.

  12. mmmpierogi says: May 31, 2017 4:55 PM

    nhpats says:
    May 31, 2017 2:57 PM
    Gronk, Edleman and Cooks approve of this approach

    ********************************************************************

    Ha – article’s posted at 2:53 and you’re the first to chime in at 2:57, a whopping 4 minutes later. If the level of trolling-related activity from Pats homers on this site is any indication, life must be pretty dull up in the Boston area these days.

  13. patsfan4lifesbchamps says: May 31, 2017 7:01 PM

    They are just trying to copy what Denver did and had success against the Patriots. The problem is Steelers do not have the personnel.

  14. realfootballfan says: May 31, 2017 7:03 PM

    Both approaches work as New England has proven over the years. However, they are right that zone won’t work against Tom Brady and the Patriots. They just have his whole career against Pittsburgh’s zone defense to attest to that while the Ravens play more man and have more success against him. I’d say that if your team plays lots of zone, unless they have the ’85 Bear personnel, he’s going to figure it eventually before the game is over. That’s exactly what happened to Seattle and Atlanta, and Seattle’s personnel was pretty good when they blew their fourth quarter lead to let you understand what you’re up against playing that type of defense.

  15. takeyourpunishmentandquitwhininglikeababy says: Jun 1, 2017 10:01 AM

    Steelers can play whatever coverage they want and it still won’t help Little Ben get over his long running touchdown drought. Unless the defense shuts out every opponent, and it won’t, Steelers have only one offensive weapon and his name is Boswell.

  16. dimi1919 says: Jun 1, 2017 9:11 PM

    ridnaway says:
    May 31, 2017 3:21 PM
    So do A.J. Green, John Ross and Tyler Eifert.

    ———

    Green yes. My 11 year old niece can tackle Ross and depending on what week you catch Eifert in. He’s good for about 4 games a year.

  17. fifel1144 says: Jun 2, 2017 5:43 PM

    dimi1919 says:
    Jun 1, 2017 9:11 PM
    ridnaway says:
    May 31, 2017 3:21 PM
    So do A.J. Green, John Ross and Tyler Eifert.

    ———

    Green yes. My 11 year old niece can tackle Ross and depending on what week you catch Eifert in. He’s good for about 4 games a year.

    ————

    They can’t approve of anything when they get swept by the Steelers and/or fall below .500. Both of those happened last year…..Sorry.

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