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Teryl Austin Discusses Importance Of Stopping The Run, Pressure With Highest-Paid Defense

On the second episode of Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp All-Access, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin talked to KDKA’s Rich Walsh concerning the significance of stopping the run and the potential of added stress with the NFL’s highest-paid protection. 

“It’s super important,” Austin mentioned about stopping the run. “I know everyone thinks hey, it’s a pass league, it’s a pass league, but if teams are running on you they have everything open. They have play-action pass, they have regular pass, they’re just gonna dictate the game to you,” he mentioned. 

In order to cease the run after a 12 months during which the Pittsburgh protection ranked dead-last within the NFL, Austin preached getting again to the fundamentals. 

“We just have to get back to fundamentals and basics, making sure we’re fitting things up right, making sure our communication is good so we don’t have open gaps,” he mentioned. “There’s going to be a big emphasis on it. We have to get better in that area.”

Pittsburgh’s run protection was abysmal final season. Quite a lot of that may very well be attributed to Tyson Alualu’s damage and Stephon Tuitt lacking the season, however the inside linebackers simply appeared misplaced on loads of events and working backs had been in a position to get previous the second stage and into the secondary, which led Minkah Fitzpatrick to guide the workforce in tackles. It wasn’t as if it was only a case of enjoying towards stud working backs, as just about anybody who touched the ball towards the Steelers final 12 months had an opportunity of breaking off a 5+ yard run.

While Pittsburgh was in a position to considerably make up for it with their go rush and go protection usually, there’s no excuse for a protection as proficient because the Steelers to be as dangerous as they had been towards the run. It has to enhance this 12 months, and if it takes getting again to the basics as Austin mentioned, then that’s effective. 

Anyone who watched the Steelers the previous couple of years is aware of what the go protection is able to. Even although they don’t have a ton of star energy outdoors of Fitzpatrick within the secondary, Pittsburgh’s go rush will help drive quarterbacks into dangerous throws, and the cornerback unit is a bit underrated this 12 months in my view. None of that can matter this 12 months if Pittsburgh once more struggles to cease the run. It must be the largest factor they deal with at camp, and I’m glad that Austin mentioned it’s an emphasis.

After Fitzpatrick’s extension, the Pittsburgh protection additionally turned the highest-paid unit within the NFL. Austin mentioned that doesn’t add any additional stress. 

“It’s the normal pressure that you always have which is to get a defense out there that’s gonna help us win games and get in the playoffs and have a chance at a ring.”

With a younger offense that’s going to wish time to completely gel, the onus might be on the protection to maintain Pittsburgh aggressive early on. Obviously, protection might be their calling card this 12 months because it has been the previous couple of seasons, however with out Ben Roethlisberger and with turnover alongside the offensive line and within the broad receiver room, the protection has to place the Steelers able to win. They’ve carried out it earlier than, notably throughout the 2019 season after Roethlisberger went down, and with a brand new quarterback underneath heart and an offense that doesn’t actually resemble those of 2020 or 2021, they should do it once more. 

I’ve loads of religion within the Steelers’ protection this 12 months. It’s a veteran group that is aware of their struggles towards the run merely can’t occur once more in 2022. If they determine what went improper final 12 months and take steps to deal with it now, which appears to be the case, they’ll be not less than a top-20 unit on the bottom. I feel Myles Jack is a serious improve over what they acquired out of Joe Schobert final 12 months as properly, particularly relating to stopping the run. 

I totally consider this protection could make the Steelers aggressive in what’s going to little question be a tricky convention, and I’m wanting ahead to seeing if that can find yourself being the case. 

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