Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Trends Under Mike Tomlin

min read
Mike Tomlin
BetMGM Staff @BETMGM Sep 28, 2021, 11:07 PM

The legacy of the Steel Curtain looms large in Pittsburgh. Despite boasting a Super Bowl win and an excellent regular-season winning percentage, Mike Tomlin will always have more to prove to Steelers Nation.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is far less dominant than last season. So will the Pittsburgh defense slide further, or is it poised for a rebound? Read on to learn more about the Steelers NFL odds this week.

Bud Dupree Got Paid

The departure of outside linebacker Bud Dupree haunts the Steelers. A former first-round pick, Dupree registered 11.5 sacks in 2019 and eight in 2020.

Those stellar numbers got him a five-year $82.5 million contract from the Tennessee Titans. Though the Steelers still boast a dominant LB crew with T.J. Watt and Devin Bush Jr., Dupree’s absence is palpable.

Through the first three games, the Steelers’ defense registered a paltry five sacks.

Secondary Trouble

The 2020 Steelers defense finished the 2020 season ranked third overall. Stellar play from stars like Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt propelled the unit into the NFL elite. The secondary also played a huge role.

Free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick finished the 2020 season with four interceptions and 79 combined tackles.

Cornerbacks Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson rounded out a dynamic defensive backfield capable of stout pass protection and splash plays.

What Happened?

One of the unfortunate but predictable 2021 Steelers trends is poor secondary play. Hilton left as a free agent, and the Steelers cut Nelson to clear cap space.

These losses contribute to Minkah Fitzpatrick’s current poor play. Though fans and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin felt pleased after a Week 1 win against Buffalo, the secondary continues regressing.

Aaron Rodgers Licks His Chops

A bruised and battered Steelers team travels to Green Bay this week. With the Steelers’ offense faltering, the defense must right a season quickly spiraling out of control.

Last week’s loss against the Bengals puts the Steelers at risk for finishing last in their division for the first time since 1988. Mike Tomlin’s streak of non-losing seasons also hangs in the balance.

Unfortunately, they face a determined Aaron Rodgers hot off a dramatic last-minute win against San Francisco. Despite the offseason drama, Rodgers continues to play at an MVP level.

He’s more than ready to pick apart a struggling Steelers secondary.

Packers Favored in NFL Week 4 Odds

The Green Bay Packers sit as -7 favorites versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. T.J. Watt and LB Alex Highsmith are practicing this week, and Coach Tomlin remains hopeful they’re ready to play on Sunday.

Will their returns help the Steelers’ defense stop Rodgers and a surging Green Bay offense?

The Steelers are a proud organization, and I expect the defense to fight against the Packers. However, given where both teams are, I don’t think the Steelers can keep it close through four quarters.

Uncharted Waters for Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin is an all-time great coach. His tenure at the helm of the Pittsburgh Steelers will land him a spot in Canton. The 2021 season, however, is a year of challenges unlike any other during his career.

The once-dominant Steelers defense looks average at best in 2021, and there are no signs they will improve.

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About the Author

BetMGM Staff

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Our BetMGM authors are sports experts, with a wealth of knowledge of the sports betting industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news across players, teams and coaches, providing betting previews and predictions, fun facts and more.

Our BetMGM authors are sports experts, with a wealth of knowledge of the sports betting industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news across players, teams and coaches, providing betting previews and predictions, fun facts and more.