Porter Not Concerned with Sack Production from OLBs

Steelers assistant talks roughing the passer rules and more

Josh Rowntree
October 16, 2018 - 1:59 pm
Steelers OLB Coach Joey Porter at training camp practice in 2018

Josh Rowntree - 93.7 The Fan

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The game has changed since Joey Porter played. And he is more than willing to let you know it. 

The Steelers outside linebackers coach spoke Tuesday for the first time in the regular season, as Pittsburgh is in its bye week. 

In Porter’s era, hitting the quarterback, even a little bit late, was a generally acceptable practice. Now though? Roughing the passer penalties and $20,000 fines — like the ones given to Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt — have become the norm.

“We know you can’t land on them, you can’t drive them into the ground,” Porter said of the newly heightened enforcement of the rules. “But you can tackle them. So if you have a chance to tackle them, you’ve got to make that tackle.”

A prime example of how the enforcement of the rules is hurting the game occurred Sunday night, when Chiefs linebacker Breeland Speaks let go of Tom Brady, thinking he had thrown the ball. Brady ran the ball for a touchdown. 

“You don’t want to be in that situation to where you’ve got a guy and you’re scared to tackle him, then you let him go and he gets a touchdown,” Porter said.

Besides minding the rules, Porter is also trying to get the most out of a fairly inexperienced group of outside linebackers. T.J. Watt is in his second year and is second in the NFL with six sacks. Bud Dupree has three sacks and Anthony Chickillo has one. 

“I think we’re playing fair,” Porter said. “There’s always some plays out there that we left, that you wish that you could have back. But it’s all part of the learning process.

“I think, assignment wise, they’re doing their job and playing good football. But there’s always extra plays out there to be made and that’s what we’re chasing every day.”

Pittsburgh only has three outside linebackers right now. It has made it work to this point. 

“We have some young guys, some new pieces. I think they understand how to play for each other and with each other,” Porter added. “As long as we’re having that, we’re going to get better. The expectation that we have for our guys is always high, but I think they’re heading in the right direction.”

Naturally, every group of linebackers will get compared to Porter’s era, in which high sack numbers from the outside linebacker position were the norm. But Porter thinks those comparisons are unfair.

“It don’t matter what I did back in freaking 2000-whatever,” he said. “That was way back then. They play for the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers. You’re talking about two different eras, two different schemes of how people attack each other. It’s different now. It’s a different brand of football.”

A year ago, the Steelers broke the franchise’s all-time, single-season sack record. It was an accomplishment almost overlooked, due to the lack of production from the outside linebacker group specifically. Porter, however, uses it as an example of the team’s overall scheme working, 

“It does no good if you have two guys or three guys that are All-Pro and Pro Bowlers and all that (expletive) and we lose,” he said. “Who’s going to be happy? Those three guys? Because we ain’t. We want to put another trophy in there.”

Hear all of what Joe Porter had to say below.