Colts Opponent Scouting Report: Steelers Defense

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Ross Cockrell
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Ross Cockrell /

The Steel Curtain of the 1970’s will not be invading Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers do boast the second-ranked defense in the league at the midway point of the season.

The Steelers are allowing less than 17 points per game and 4.8 yards allowed per offensive play.

The Steelers’ defense takes on the fiery persona of their head coach Mike Tomlin. Tomlin was the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings before taking over as the head man in Pittsburgh where he became the youngest head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl.

The Steelers have lived up to their Blitzburgh moniker this season, ranking 4th in the NFL with 26 sacks. Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt and Ryan Shazier are some of the most dynamic linebackers in the league. Dupree, in his third year out of Kentucky, has 3 sacks on the season, the rookie T.J. Watt has 4, and the former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Shazier leads the team in tackles.

Cameron Heyward may be the most underrated defensive lineman in the league. Year in and year out, Heyward is the most dominant force along the Pittsburgh defensive line. On the season, Heyward has 5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.

The Colts’ offensive line, which hasn’t played well all year, will have to keep their heads on a swivel. The Steelers bring pressure from every angle and the Colts must protect Jacoby Brissett to have any chance in this game.

Cornerback Artie Burns and former Cleveland Browns first-round pick Joe Haden have tremendous lock-down capabilities on the outside. If T.Y. Hilton, who was on the most recent injury report, is matched up one-on-one with with either Burns or Haden, he must take advantage.

Hilton exploded last week against Houston’s talented secondary of Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson for 175 yards. Last week’s Offensive Player of the Game has helped carry the Colts to a 3-0 record when he goes over 60 yards receiving on the year. He’ll need another big game against the Steelers.

The biggest weakness for the Pittsburgh defense is the middle of the field. Sean Davis is only in his second year and Mike Mitchell has been limited in practice with an Achilles injury. Jack Doyle is the perfect weapon to deploy against a suspect pair of safeties.

Pittsburgh does not make it easy for opposing offenses. The Colts will need to be patient and take what the defense gives them. Indianapolis needs to stay out of 3rd-and-long, because the electrifying front-seven of Pittsburgh will wreak havoc on Brissett in the Colts backfield.

Indy has their work cut out for them on Sunday against the Steelers. However, if the offensive line can keep Brissett’s jersey clean, he can find the open man. The Colts have to win the turnover battle and hit a couple of big plays to Hilton in order to win.