PITTSBURGH — Taco Charlton may have limited experience in a 3-4 defense. In fact, Charlton’s only real experience in the defense at the NFL level is when he played with the Miami Dolphins in a stint with them in 2019. Still, that was the year Charlton put up a career-high five sacks. With such limited experience in a 3-4 defense, though, how could Charlton smoothly transition into the Steelers’ defense?
For Charlton, it is not as much thinking about the differences between defensive end and outside linebacker, but rather, drawing on what he knows from and moving forward with his knowledge base and talent.
“I played a little bit of 3-4 in Miami, so it’s really just remembering back to that,” Charlton said. “I’m athletic on two feet so I don’t feel out of my comfort zone. It hasn’t been too bad for me.”
However, while Charlton has experience in the 3-4 defense, he has not been in one as the Steelers defense. For his experience in Pittsburgh to be as fulfilling as possible for both sides, Charlton will have to take on some new challenges, and that includes dropping back into coverage in some instances.
“At the end of the day, you let me pass rush, I can pass rush,” Charlton said. “That’s all the same. The coverage drops and the coverage aspect is definitely a little different. The most similar I played there was in Miami. But I didn’t drop a lot. In Dallas and KC, our defenses were completely different. We were a 4-3, put your hand in the dirt every play type of defense.”
When it comes to working in coverage, Charlton is still feeling it out completely, but as he continues to learn more he says he is getting even more comfortable than ever before.
“I’ve grown a lot more comfortable now after being here for a long time,” Charlton said. “I’ve started to learn some of the different adjustments and reads on different routes. I’ve grown more comfortable. Coach has done a great job of bringing me along and getting me up to speed. I’ve been enjoying it.”
The Steelers do not drop their linebackers nearly as much as they used to, but Charlton still dropped into coverage twice on Sunday in his ten snaps. So, he will have to continue to grow there. However, as he gets more comfortable, the hope is that Charlton’s play continues to get even better.