Pittsburgh Steelers' run defense searching for answers as Kareem Hunt matchup looms

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have some major problems with their run defense. For the second time in three weeks, an opponent rushed for more than 200 yards. The Jaguars rushed for 231, which included a 90-yard run by Leonard Fournette.

Two weeks ago, the Steelers gave up 220 yards in an overtime loss to the Bears. The Steelers are 28th in the NFL against the rush, allowing 136.6 yards per game.

“I think we just have to do a better job of tackling and do a better job of fitting up the runs and getting ourselves in better position,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said Monday afternoon. “When we’re giving up 3 and 4 yards a run people are going to continue to run the ball and they’ll be able to run it effectively. But if we get them in longer downs and distances we can cause them to pass the ball more. When you’re playing football like that people are going to continue to run the ball.”

When the Steelers allowed the 220 yards to the Bears it led to some soul searching by defensive coordinator Keith Butler and his players. This performance against the Jaguars will lead to another round.

The Steelers knew the Jaguars were going to line up and try to run the ball. It’s their identity. Yet they were unable to stop it.

“It’s unacceptable,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “We knew what they were going to do, and they did it. It’s technique and missed tackles. We talk about it every week. We get a failing grade on that.”

Butler told his players in a meeting early in the week that the most important thing they were going to have to do against the Jaguars was stop Fournette and the running game.

“We were all challenged on Wednesday and we didn’t meet that challenge,” safety Mike Mitchell said. “It was another (crappy) performance.”

Shazier is confident the Steelers can get their issues on run defense straightened out.

“Honestly, I’m not really worried,” Shazier said. “I know we’re going to get this taken care of. Right now, we’re going through a bad little slump against the run. We’re going to get this fixed. We’re going to get everything back in order.”

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