Steelers defense fails against Jaguars


Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Steelers are off to a bumpy start to the 2021 season.

Liam Belan, Staff Writer

With the Steelers’ elimination from the playoffs Sunday afternoon, it has become clear that changes need to be made on the defensive side of the ball as soon as possible.

Pittsburgh had a favorable matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and even though the Jags had already beaten the Steelers at Heinz Field, many were already licking their lips for a chance at revenge against the New England Patriots.

Ben Roethlisberger had a much better game this time around, with five touchdowns and just under 500 passing yards, and the offense clicked the entire game. In fact, the offense put up 42 points on arguably the best defense in the league despite questionable play-calling.

But for this Steelers defense, 42 points is simply not enough. The Pittsburgh defense allowed 38 points (the Jaguars defense scored seven of their own on a fumble recovery) to a team with one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in Blake Bortles and rookie Leonard Fournette as their best weapon.

A team with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback along with the best receiver and running back in the league should be able to win most games. Ben and the crew did their job, but the defense failed them.

A game after Bortles threw for 87 yards and looked more like a third-stringer than a starter, the Pittsburgh secondary allowed him to throw for 214 yards and a touchdown. They allowed Leonard Fournette to score more rushing touchdowns (five) at Heinz Field this season than Steeler Le’Veon Bell (four).

Fournette played in Pittsburgh twice this season versus Bell’s nine games.

The run defense has been pitiful at times, allowing 140 rushing yards to Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard in a Week 3 loss and 290 yards over two games to Fournette despite the fact that he was battling ankle trouble in Sunday’s game.

Pittsburgh’s secondary has been exposed countless times other than Sunday. Tom Brady tore the Steelers apart for 298 in the controversial Week 15 loss.

Overall, offensive coordinator Todd Haley is an easy and overused target, but defensive coordinator Keith Butler deserves the blame for Sunday’s debacle.