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‘Drove Sean Payton Crazy:’ Colin Cowherd Says Russell Wilson Takes Too Many Sacks



Wherever one stands on Russell Wilson as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback, one thing is for sure, the Steelers upgraded at quarterback this offseason. Wilson’s 26 passing touchdowns last season in 15 games played are twice as many touchdowns as Kenny Pickett threw in his two-year tenure as the Steelers starting quarterback.

Wilson’s undoubtedly an upgrade in talent and he’s proven to be a playoff winner, but there’s one major area of weakness in his game that may be a little overlooked by eager Steelers fans.

On “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on Fox Sports Radio Tuesday afternoon, Cowherd ranted about Russell Wilson’s remarkably high sack numbers throughout his career.

“Russell Wilson’s sack data illuminates why he threw the deep ball so much. He threw it over the defense because he couldn’t always see the middle of the field,” Cowherd said. “He’s on pace to be the most sacked quarterback in league history. In fact, since he entered the league, he’s been sacked 112 times more than the next quarterback and Denver did not have a bad offensive line.”

He later added, “Steeler fans, I think you’ve upgraded at quarterback, but get ready for some 3rd and 13s and 3rd and 15s. That’s what drove Sean Payton crazy…You’ve got to move around; you’ve got to create lanes.”

Cowherd’s analysis isn’t anything ground-breaking, but it’s a fair criticism that maybe isn’t getting as much attention as it should. The Steelers have really struggled in 3rd-and-medium and 3rd-and-long situations the past few years. Any semi-attentive fan watching the team the past few years would recognize that any sack or holding penalty leading to a third-and-long would often derail Steelers’ drives.

On top of that, the offensive line is improving, but question marks at the tackle spot aren’t exactly the best sign given Russell Wilson’s sack troubles. The Steelers will address offensive tackle at some point in the draft, probably in the first few rounds, but there’s also the issue of having reliable receivers who can provide a safety valve for Wilson when he’s pressured.

Diontae Johnson has been that for the Steelers the past few years, a proficient route runner who can consistently get open in the intermediate zones. But with Johnson gone, the Steelers will need to add another receiver option to support Wilson. George Pickens is elite at what he does but airing it out to Pickens can only work so often if Wilson’s being pressured.

Good news for the Steelers: while Wilson isn’t the runner he once was, he’s still able to move around enough to open up passing windows for himself as a short quarterback. And if there’s any offensive coordinator who’s equipped to maximize this ability, it’s Arthur Smith. Smith will emphasize play-action passing early and often, while also designing plays for Wilson to roll out, escaping pressure and creating lanes for himself.

Hopefully, Wilson and Smith can figure out ways for Wilson to get rid of the ball instead of taking so many sacks. Perhaps it’s more frequent dump-offs to Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris. Maybe it’s using his legs a bit more than he has the past few years, expanding his comfort zone a bit. Whatever happens, the Steelers will be facing some dauting pass rushers this season especially in the AFC North, and they can’t afford too many 3rd and longs.


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