Ep. 039 Steelers Toxicity


  1. 2018 Upside
  2. 2017 Toxicity Rank
  3. Strength of Schedule

2018 Upside

We spent a lot of time these past two weeks administering a dose of reality about the upcoming season.  While we do have concerns about several positions, the Steelers are still poised like a crazed mongoose in a room full of pythons, ready to strike with the venomous fangs of its vaunted offense, while perhaps the “known unknowns” about the defense will materialize as positives in the upcoming season.

Potential Improvements:

  1. Offense – Red Zone offense to improve from 18th place in 2017
    1. Vance McDonald – bigger role
  2. Offense – will come out with a fast start (Conner can help at the start even if Le’Veon isn’t quite ready)
  3. Defense – discipline / communication WILL improve. It couldn’t possibly get worse.  Haden emerges. Acquired veterans will be leaders (Bostic, Berhe, Burnett)
  4. Defense – Young guys step up: Burns, Watt, Davis, Hilton (Silver Bullet), Tuitt

Steelers Toxicity

“Toxicity” is a somewhat esoteric statistic coined by former NFL head coach Brian Billick.  It refers to the combined turnover differential and big play differential and theoretically gives insight into how teams balance risk and reward in generating and avoiding giving up big plays (plays over 20+ yards) and winning the turnover battle.

Toxic Differential = (Big Plays For – Big Plays Against) + (Takeaways – Giveaways)

In 2017, 12 of the top 16 teams having a positive toxic differential reached the playoffs. Ttwo teams in toxic differential this season met In the NFC title game (Minnesota and Philadelphia).

Steelers ranked 16th in terms of toxicity with a +6 in 2017.


We took a look at where those big plays are coming from.  According to Sharp Football Stats 30% of the explosive runs are coming around the left side, territory under the purview of J.T. Watt, Ryan Shazier and Artie Burns.


Strength of Schedule

We also talk about the 2018 strength of schedule.  Sharp Football Statsranked each team’s strength of schedule based on their opponents’ 2017 statistics. Of course the draft and free agency will have an influence on next year’s results. We’ll see whether our opponents have become richer in the off season.

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