Like the better Steelers teams in recent memory -- not to mention the mighty “Steel Curtain” defense of the 1970s -- this group can really get after the quarterback. Pittsburgh led the league with 56 sacks last season. The pressure came from everywhere, with six different players recording four or more sacks. The Steelers ranked fifth in total defense last season, seventh in scoring defense, fifth against the pass and 10th against the run. Pittsburgh is stout up front with DEs Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, and free-agent pickup Morgan Burnett should help bolster a secondary that occasionally sprung leaks last year.
The LB corps has traditionally been the engine of Pittsburgh’s defenses, but the current group of linebackers is average as best. A big reason for that is the loss of star Ryan Shazier, who sustained a severe spinal injury late last year and will miss the 2018 season. Shazier’s playmaking will be sorely missed.
Statistically, the Steelers had a strong defense last season, with the whole exceeding the sum of the parts. But the personnel is still pretty average, so the Pittsburgh defense could be hard-pressed to match its 2017 performance.