PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have allowed six sacks in back-to-back weeks, with quarterback Kenny Pickett being helped to a seat in the offensive backfield a dozen times combined in games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints.
The last two games have been a negative outlier, but on the whole, the Steelers offensive line hasn’t done a great job of protecting its quarterbacks. The Steelers are 25th in the NFL with a three sacks per game average.
But the way those last two games unfolded told very different stories about what can be learned from the statistical horror show that is the Pittsburgh sack total.
Against the Eagles, the Steelers were trailing from the get-go, and then quickly by multiple scores. The team was in a position where it needed to throw and the Eagles knew it. Philadelphia has a very strong front seven, as well, making the necessary imbalance in play-calling all that more important.
Against the Saints, though, the Steelers never trailed. They had their best running day in six years as a team and were frequently in position where they made a Saints defense without several of its starters defend both the run and the pass.
And yet, Pickett hit the turf six times again. So what gives? The answer is, it’s not all on the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, three of those six sacks were the fault of a Steelers lineman. A fourth was the result of a missed blocking assignment on a play-action pass by running back Najee Harris. The other two, PFF but the blame on Pickett for leaving a clean pocket and running into trouble.
Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin agreed with that assessment.
“Sometimes, Kenny gets Kenny in trouble,” Tomlin said. “But …