Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Butler: Tackling to Be Summer Camp Priority Defensive Coordinator Says Players Must Be Taught Fundamentals

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Butler: Tackling to Be Summer Camp Priority Defensive Coordinator Says Players Must Be Taught Fundamentals

Article excerpt

The hangover of losing to Jacksonville 45-42 at home in the Steelers' only playoff game last season persists. As much as it haunts their defense, it motivates them.

The medicine for a possible cure will come at training camp in the form of more tackling than ever for a Mike Tomlin defense.

"We got to stop the freaking run, and that's as simple as you can get," defensive coordinator Keith Butler responded about the effect that loss to the Jaguars had.

"You look at the whole last year, we missed a ton of tackles. No. 1, we got to tackle. We're going to work on tackling in training camp, try to improve it as much as we can. And if we are able to tackle better, all that stuff is going to be cut down."

The defense ranked fifth overall last season yielding an average of 306.9 yards per game. They ranked 10th against the run, fifth against the pass. That's not bad, but they were gouged on the ground in three of their four losses - Chicago (222 yards), Jacksonville in the regular season (231) and Jacksonville in the playoffs (164).

The Jaguars' 45 points tied for most against the Steelers in the postseason.

"You remember that crap like it's yesterday," Butler said. "It bothers me. I know it bothers my players. We know what happened in the game - we didn't stop the run, we let them score too much. You look at the dadgum Super Bowl, shoot there's 1,100 yards, and how many points are scored in the Super Bowl? A ton. I don't like the way that's going."

While the Steelers had good rankings on defense overall, they tied for third in the NFL with 13 passing plays allowed of 40 yards or more and tied for fourth with three run plays of 40 yards or more.

Contributing to many of those big plays was poor tackling.

"We're going to do it in training camp," Butler promised.

He reasoned that colleges, with their reduced allotment of 20 hours per week for structured meetings/workouts, spend much less time on fundamentals, especially tackling.

"Nobody does it in college. You look at what's going on in college, they have 20 hours. They're not practicing fundamentals, they're practicing schemes.

"So when we get them, we can't think that they know the fundamentals of playing football. …

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