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STEELERS ROOKIE SAFETY TERRELL EDMUNDS missed a number of tackles in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-37, Sept. 16. (Photos by Courier photographer Brian Cook)

The Kansas City Chiefs massacred the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Steelers’ house on Sept. 16, 42-37. There are all types of blame to spread around but let’s start with the kicking game. On several occasions, Steelers punter Jordan Berry gift-wrapped the Chiefs excellent field position, giving them a very short field to exploit a questionable Black and Gold defense. More on the “McNasty” Steelers defense later.

Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt punted twice for an average of 47 yards per punt. His opponent that was wearing “black and yellow,” Jordan Berry, punted five times for a net of 31.6.

When the opposing punter outkicks you by a 15-yard average, that automatically gives any opposing offense an advantage, especially when the defense is “suspect.” The punt return blocking for the Steelers special teams was atrocious—the Steelers only returned one punt for a measly six yards, while the Chiefs brought back two punts for 54 yards. This lackluster effort seemed as if the offense, defense and special teams of Pittsburgh was “plumb tuckered out,” maybe from the maximum effort they had to put forth just to exit FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland the Sunday before, which, as you know, resulted in a tie of all things.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers can no longer “start slow” because with Pittsburgh’s questionable defense, the Steelers will become “ketchup” at Heinz Field or any other field as opposed to “catching up” if the Steelers happen to land in a hole. As far as I am concerned, with Steelers star cornerback Joe Haden injured and less than 100 percent, any opposing offensive coordinator can spread the ball around without too much concern. When Haden is in the lineup, teams must game plan for his presence at all times. Also, teams will more often than not shy away from him.

In 2017, the defensive scheme of Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler didn’t end up as bad as everyone thought it would. Pittsburgh was ranked fifth in total defense and surrendered an average of 201 passing yards and 105 rushing yards per game.

Not too shabby for a team that was and remains in the process of rebuilding but almost always teetering on the precipice of failure because of youth and inexperience. But they have grown. If not for five turnovers in their 2018 season opener and lousy kicking in their home opener, who knows? Pittsburgh could and should be 2-0 as opposed to 0-1-1.

Butler should go back to the drawing board, look at some defensive film from the Steelers defensive past and rip a few pages out of the “Nasty D” playbook as opposed to the “McNasty” playbook. The “Nasty D” playbook imposes their will on the offense of the opposition. The 2018 Steelers defense comes from a lineage that was once esoteric. Now Pittsburgh’s “McNasty D” is simply generic and predictable, running prevent and cover-two hybrid defensive schemes that only prevents them from being successful. Letting opposing offenses “have it their way.”

Keith Butler was once thought of as the “heir apparent” to former Steelers Hall-of-Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Instead, Mr. Butler, like the “prodigal son,” has squandered away the rich Steelers defensive inheritance and legacy left to him by Mr. LeBeau and others, both alive and dead. It seems as if just in the recent past, folks were pining about Dick LeBeau and how he hadn’t adapted his defenses to modern offensive playbooks and how offenses had passed him by.

Have the current offenses passed up Keith Butler as well?

(Aubrey Bruce: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com)

 

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