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.