In yesterday's playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Steelers defense was overwhelmed in the first quarter by the tight end duo of Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox, who each registered a touchdown early in the game.
Sadly, the Steelers defense's inability of containing tight ends was a recurring issue for them this year. They struggled to contain Trey Bride, who completed the game with 89 receiving yards and a touchdown, in their Week 13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. In their Week 8 matchup, tight end Evan Ingram of the Jacksonville Jaguars proved to be a challenge for them. His 88 receiving yards helped carry the Jaguars to a big win.
Looking at the Steelers roster, it is evident that the team does not currently have guys who can adequately cover tight ends. For example, they signed veteran Keanu Neal in part because of his stature, which was perfect for defending tight ends. In the end, Neal proved to be more of a liability in coverage than the answer they had anticipated.
For the upcoming season, rookie cornerback Cory Trice Jr. is one player who might contribute to the solution. His stature and length may be helpful if he can regain his health after spending the entire season on the team's injured reserve list due to an ACL tear. Having said that, the Steelers will probably require more additions in the draft or free agency to have the kind of backup unit capable of neutralizing tight ends.
If the Steelers secondary is in order, the defense can accomplish great things. If they want to be a well-balanced team in 2024, they must dedicate themselves to the idea of fixing this weakness, regardless of whether it was brought about by a new defensive coordinator or new players.