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PFF Ranks Keith Butler Third-Best Defensive Play Caller in NFL



Pro Football Focus has ranked Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler as the third-best play caller entering the 2021 season.

There’s just one problem.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin served as the club’s primary defensive signal caller for last season, including the team’s Wildcard round loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Tomlin and Butler had even split the duty at times prior to the 2020 season.

Regardless of who is calling the plays, there is no denying that Butler’s unit has been one of the best in football of late.

“The Steelers tied for second in the NFL in yards per play allowed while generating pressure and knocking down the quarterback both at a rate roughly four percentage points higher than any other defense in 2020,” PFF’s Eric Eager writes. “This was despite the fact that Bud Dupree and Devin Bush were injured for much of the season.”

Pittsburgh led the league with 56 sacks a season ago while also forcing the second-most turnovers at 27.

The Steelers also finished the 2020 campaign third in NFL in both scoring defense (19.5) and yards allowed (305.8).

Despite Bush returning, the Steelers did lose Dupree in free agency, and will now rely on second-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith to keep their pass rush humming.

As for their secondary, Pittsburgh is searching for a replacement for cornerback Steven Nelson, who they released earlier this offseason.

The only defensive play callers ranked ahead of Butler are former Rams defensive coordinator and new Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale.