How did the Pittsburgh Steelers wind up stacking up to other teams statistically?
Cameron Heyward led the team in 12 sacks. Given the defensive scheme, that is a crazy statistic, and one that earned him a first-team All-Pro bid. Beside him was Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt put three sacks as well, but only played in 12 games. He injured his bicep against on the second play of the season and fought through some other ailments as the year went on. It is a shame that the injuries stalled out his season a but he still had a pretty strong season. Javon Hargrave is still looked at as a rotational player, and put up two sacks with 32 tackles. Tyson Alualu added in four sacks, and L.T. Walton put in two sacks. The defensive line is a strength of the team.
Not only did Cam Heyward out sack an edge rusher, inside linebacker Vince Williams put up more sacks than either T.J. Watt or Bud Dupree. Watt’s year started strong, with a sack and an interception, but he went through his rookie ups and downs. To finish with seven sacks is nowhere near a disappointment. However, Bud Dupree is now about to enter year four, and he has not been able to produce like he was expected to, with just six sacks in year three. Anthony Chickillo added three sacks, Arthur Moats played almost exclusively special teams, and James Harrison put in a sack.
Ryan Shazier tied Sean Davis with a team leader in tackles, at 89. He also tied Davis in interceptions to lead the team with three. Vince Williams put in 88 tackles and finished second in the team in sacks, with eight. He schemed into a lot of those sacks, but overall it was a great year for Williams considering expectations. Tyler Matakevich finished with nine tackles and offseason surgery. Sean Spence added 19 in the place of Shazier and L.J. Fort put in two tackles and a sack as well.
Joe Haden could only start 11 games and did not have a great statistical season, but he kept teams away from his side, and that was strong enough. Artie Burns is getting better at tackling, and put up 54, but that is because teams are throwing to his side. He got bailed out by Haden getting injured, but again gave up a touchdown against Jacksonville. He finished with one interception.
Then, there is Mike Hilton. Hilton picked off two passes and sacked the quarterback, four teams. He is the ultimate near the line of scrimmage threat and was a great asset this season for the Steelers. William Gay had 19 tackles, Coty Sensabaugh put in 17 tackles as he was relentlessly attacked and Cameron Sutton put up five after starting the year on the IR.
Sean Davis tied with Shazier for the team lead in tackles and interceptions. However, he did not make the game-changing plays that Shazier made, and it took him two extra games. His year was actually looked at as a disappointment by most. Mike Mitchell missed four games, which really hurt the team, and only put in 53 tackles. It was not a great year for him by his standards. J.J. Wilcox had just nine tackles and was demoted after too many special teams penalties. Robert Golden filled in for Mitchell, who had 19 tackles and the team moved Gay back to safety at times.