Initial Scouting Notes: Pittsburgh Steelers


I have decided to take some brief notes while watching film of the Pittsburgh Steelers in an effort to communicate to you what I am seeing as I look at their film for the first time. It is unfinished in a sense, since I have really only viewed three films so far with a rewind here and there. I will watch them some more on Tuesday to get a better idea of the talent of players and the concepts being run. If all goes well with that and I don’t have to work overtime at my temporary winter job, I am thinking about making this like an overview article and then have another article strictly dedicated to game-planning against them. If that is something you’re interested in, please let me know. If that is something that you are not interested in, please let me know that as well as I have other articles I want to write out if that is the case. Thank you for being the great community that you are, lets get to it!


Key Stats:

  • 3rd YPD (Yards Per drive) = 34.9
  • 6th PPD (Points Per drive) = 2.13
  • 3rd YPPA (Yards Per Pass Attempt) = 7.5
  • 4th YPRA (Yards Per Rush Attempt) = 4.7
  • 2nd Total Offense = 404.8


The Steelers offense is efficient and explosive. Their offensive coordinator (Todd Haley) is a creative play caller who is flexible in his game planning. His offense involves lots of individual tags to expose individual match-ups in all facets of the game. He accounts for numbers and leverage really well and creates opportunities to get the ball to his best players, Antonio Brown being the primary beneficiary. All signs say he is very very good at what he does and the players have responded accordingly.

In the pass, they are a vertical team at heart. They feature quality wide receivers that can create separation, attack the football, and get yards after the catch. Their QB is good at throwing his targets open and away from the defender while also delivering the ball downfield. Their other skill players are athletic bodies who are dangerous in space. Their TE’s especially have some size to them which will create some mismatches vs LB’s. The OL are beefy up front averaging 6’6″ and 318 pounds among the current starting lineup. They are stout with some flexibility issues against the pass rush.

In the run, the Steelers are a zone and gap mixture. For the most part, they are an A to B gap team that aims to pound the ball inside behind their large OL. The OL have also shown some athleticism by all accounts as the T’s have wrapped around to lead block for power on occasion. They do not like to run outside zone however unless they see a match-up they like. The loss of their starting back, LeVeon Bell hasn’t hurt them too much as they have taken advantage of the abilities of veteran DeAngelo Williams very well. As of recently, they have incorporated a number of counter plays that have allowed him to cutback against the grain for some big yards. This has set up their play pass which they have mostly attached to standard deep crossing concepts and verticals.


Key Stats:

  • 5th in Turnovers = 24
  • 21st in YPD = 31.3
  • 31st in Passing Yards Allowed = 3627
  • 5th in TO% (Percentage of Drives ending in a Turnover) = 14.6%
  • 2nd in Rushing TD’s Allowed = 4


The Steelers defense are a zone pressure team out of a 3 down shell. Their goal is to get downhill and create lots negative plays while limiting explosives. The defense’s philosophy is to let the players make the adjustments on the field which has given complete control of the defense to one Ryan Shazier who has made speedy adjustments when needed. However, they have been caught a couple of times out of place because the adjustments haven’t come in fast enough from him. These adjustments have mostly come to multiple motion shifts, Cincinatti being the prime example.

They are a high frequency blitzing team with blitzing looks coming from everywhere. BOMs (Buck and Mike O/S) and MOWs (Mike and Will O/S) blitzes are the most popular by a wide margin. They also bring more secondary pressures more often than any other team in the NFL. This usually forces the QB to throw it when he doesn’t want to and allows more defenders to get to the ball. They are a top 5 turnover team because of it.

In their nickel package, they play a consistent 4 down look with 3 down personnel. This will always align in a 4-2 front. Jarvis Jones is usually the LB that plays up on the line of scrimmage when this package is called. The Steelers will primarily play base defense out of this look but, will bring pressures when called upon.

In the run game, the Steelers are a fundamental one-gap team. They are looking to hold their gap and force the runner to bounce it outside for one of their edge players to take him out. Their LB’s play very downhill, once they sniff a whiff of the run they are looking to get to the ball. Their LB’s are good at sealing the edge and holding their own. allowing only 88.3 rushing yards per game, good for 6th in the league.

In the pass game, the Steelers are primarily a one-high team. Their coverages are meant to supplement their blitzes with Cover 1 and Cover 3 being the most prevalent. Their primary pass rusher is Jarvis Jones who is athletically talented across the board and has done a good job putting his game together as of recent. Their secondary though is another story.

This is the most problematic part of their defense as they have allowed a lot of yards to accumulate through the air this season. When they are in Cover 1, they are susceptible to mesh routes and plays coming out of bunch sets or in other words, man beaters. Surprise, Surprise! And their bluff coverage has backfired on them a couple of times this season with TDs coming out as the result. Their corners are susceptible when they are on an island and they can be beat one-on-one vs quality wide receivers. The one thing the pass defense does very well is play the specific zone techniques, primarily the robber. Both the LBs and safeties have got picks and batted balls because of it.


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I am a former film coordinator for a FCS school. Currently serving in the Navy. I was glad to be around the game of football and had the chance to learn from a lot of great people. I wouldn't be where I am without the gracious support of my family, coaches, assistants, players, and friends. I also greatly appreciate you guys who take the time to read my stuff and show genuine appreciation. It means a ton! You guys are awesome! Twitter Handle: @FBDubs