At their peak, the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense put together an all-time great performance in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals. From here, the Teryl Austin era as defensive coordinator took off in a big way.
Since Week 1, however, it has been a near disaster for Austin's group. In their Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers' defense surrendered three passing touchdowns and 113 yards to receiver A.J. Brown alone. Ahkello Witherspoon, who was inactive with a hamstring injury, was victimized so much he was eventually replaced by cornerback James Pierre.
This first half alone was a microcosm of the futility of this unit since losing All-Pro linebacker T.J Watt after Week 1. As it stands, the Steelers' defense ranks 31st in total passing yards allowed (2,218), tied for last in passing touchdowns allowed (17), and 29th in total yards per game allowed (395.1).
With much of the Steelers' fanbase's scrutiny surrounding offensive coordinator Matt Canada, the performance of the Steelers' defense this season has made many question if Austin was the right choice to become the successor of former defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
If the Steelers ever decide to move on from Austin, they could replace him with current linebacker coach and accomplished defensive coordinator, Brian Flores. Before becoming the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Flores helped his New England Patriots win Superbowl XXXVI by engineering a masterful coaching performance that resulted in his defense relegating the Los Angeles Rams to only three points. Considering how much this unit has underachieved this season, transitioning to Flores could be what they need.
As they enter their bye week, one can expect at the very least, for them to contemplate making major changes. Even with the possibility of Watt returning in the near future, Austin will need to put together his best work, or he could find his tenure end soon than he expected.