The panic button sits warmed up for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. They have looked less than dominant to start the year with little pass rush help. Could they look to shake things up by getting Cliff Avril from the Detroit Lions?
Avril and Lions defense burned by Jake Locker in loss
Things didn't look so bad for the Detroit Lions defense through the first two weeks. They held their own in a couple tightly contested games. However, things quickly spiraled out of control in their second-straight loss. In addition to not getting a sack, the defense gave up 30 points, not counting the two extra touchdowns scored by the Tennessee Titans on special teams. Second-year quarterback Jake Locker missed on only 13 of his 42 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. This has led some to believe that the approach of having a strong defensive line isn't enough for Detroit to win important ball games. It hurt them last week against San Francisco and again in Tennessee. The Lions just don't have enough talent in their secondary. So it begs the question why they saved their money for defensive end Cliff Avril, who was a free agent this year and didn't use it to upgrade their corners and safeties. Is it too late to fix that?
Losses of James Harrison and Troy Polamalu showing for Steelers
One team getting their first taste of poor defense in a long time are Pittsburgh. After years of dominance on the defensive side both age and injury have finally caught up to the Steel City. All-Pros James Harrison and Troy Polamalu haven't played a full season for years and each were missed in the latest debacle against the Oakland Raiders. Pittsburgh struggled to stop a balanced attack by quarterback Carson Palmer and running back Darren McFadden. It's the second time in three games the Steelers have given up over 30 points in a game. Some will argue not having two stars will do that but these are problems that have slowly gotten worse since their Super Bowl defeat two years ago. If Harrison can't help the pass rush when he does return then things aren't likely to improve. This could mean Pittsburgh must look for help if they want to extend their Super Bowl window. Getting an active rusher like Avril would instantly change things and in return Detroit might get some draft picks and even a veteran corner like Ike Taylor to help improve their secondary.
Big trades tend not to happen around the Pittsburgh Steelers but their issues without Troy Polamalu and James Harrison were not ignorable. The Detroit Lions can't rely on their secondary as it is all season. Cliff Avril is a valuable player but could become more valuable as trade bait.
Photo Credit - David Shank