Mike Tomlin said it when it happened and it remains true. It is going to take time, and multiple players to figure out a way to turn the defense around without Ryan Shazier. He is throwing a lot of stuff against the wall, and some of it is beginning to stick as the team gets ready for a playoff run.
Pittsburgh Steelers show new dime look
One of the issues the Steelers had against the Patriots was the personnel mismatch on offense. The Patriots can run formations with a lot of tight ends, fullbacks, and running backs and still pick you apart passing the ball. No other team can do this. So, do the Steelers play with an extra cornerback, knowing they have running backs who can run routes? Or, do they keep the extra defensive lineman on the field, knowing their heavy set would run all over a bunch of defensive backs on the field?
One thing they have done in dime situations is moved Sean Davis closer towards the line of scrimmage essentially being the replacement on the field for Sean Spence. Then, they threw William Gay back in coverage. They can play two deep, they can play cover-1 with Gay as the robber, they can do a lot of things out of that formation. They showed this look for 13 plays on Sunday.
The Steelers can also mix things up front this way. Take the play below for example.
Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tutt are lined up on the left side. You know they are coming at the quarterback. Besides that? It is up to T.J. Yates. They have five other players showing blitz, and the most he knows that are coming is two.
Yates shifts protections right, if they are coming heavy it is the side with a bunch of people grouped by the line of scrimmage, right? Wrong. Dupree and Davis do come, but the distraction on the right side shifts everything open for a wide open chance at a sack for Mike Hilton on the left.
This is not a look they will exclusively go to. It is going to take the right calls and the right personnel at the right time. Still, it puts Sean Davis closer to the line to fill in for an athletic and rangy linebacker. On top of that Gay is likely better in coverage than Davis at this point anyways. This is likely the way the team will look when playing dime moving forward, and it could be a way to put Sean Davis in a better role.