The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary is arguably their weakest position group. The Cincinnati Bengals offense is high powered with multiple weapons that can challenge this squad. In the Steeelers 37-30 loss on Sunday, who were the key difference makers, either good or bad?
Pittsburgh Steelers Secondary Grades After Week 11 Loss
Minkah Fitzpatrick: B+
The former first round pick has been nothing short of amazing since being traded to Pittsburgh. In this game, Fitzpatrick was mostly quiet. A final stat line of three tackles, and essentially nothing else. Joe Burrow had his way with most of the secondary, but did not target anyone in the vicinity of Fitzpatrick. As a defender, not being targeted is a compliment. Burrow did not want to risk it, and that’s the impact Fitzpatrick can make.
Terrell Edmunds: C+
All in all, not a terrible showing. Another first round pick, Edmunds has been on the hot seat recently. Many fans did not want to see Edmunds in a Pittsburgh uniform this year, and his play in this game continued to be average. Whoever decided to put Edmunds one on one with Tee Higgins needs to reevaluate their scheme. This is a run stopping Strong Safety who can handle zones. When played in his regular role, Edmunds performed well. A sure tackler, a helpful back end player and a solid player on the roster. Just put in tough situations all game.
Cameron Sutton: D
Undersized, Sutton is not expected to be a lock down CB1. Rather, he is asked to fill a role in zone defense and cover the opposing teams second or third best wide receiver. With Ja’Marr Chase sidelined, Sutton’s biggest worry was Tee Higgins. Unfortunately, Higgins was a nightmare for everyone. The only thing that could slow him down was an injury late in the second quarter. Even after returning, Higgins was a menace. Targets against Sutton only resulted in one incompletion. Poor performance overall, and Sutton needs to step up his game.
Arthur Maulet: C
Maulet missed an early tackle on Joe Mixon in space. A nickel back more than a true corner back, Maulet needs to be a more sure tackler. Had some great coverage in the red zone, but gave up a touchdown nonetheless. With this team lacking a true CB1, Maulet was put in situations that a nickel back should not be in.
Levi Wallace: B-
Very high highs and very low lows. Wallace was absolutely bullied on the Mixon screen pass touch down. Albeit, no one expects the 179 pound corner to blow up the 350 pound offensive lineman, but at least set the edge. Fall down. Do something. Wallace followed this up with an interception on a batted pass to close out the first half. The interception was the last high point as Higgins had his way with the secondary for the rest of the game. Wallace is by no stretch of the imagination a lock down corner, but is a very serviceable CB2.
Demontae Kazee has been filling in nicely any time a starter needs a breather. Often used in three safety sets, Kazee has held his own. Mike Hilton, ex Steeler, had a defensive pass interference call for the Bengals. A+ grade from the Steelers perspective.
As this team looks to the future, the secondary needs an influx of talent. Whether its Akhello Witherspoon returning from injury, a free agent acquisition or a draft pick next year, anyone would help. With a stout front seven and T.J. Watt continuing to play out of his mind, even serviceable play from the secondary can result in a top ten defense. As it stands now, this team is not ready to make a playoff push.