Brian Baldinger knows the Steelers are 0-3, but he can't help but get a little excited when he rolls the film.
During a recent edition of his #BaldysBreakdowns on Twitter, Baldinger looked at some successes of the Steelers defense thus far in 2019, particularly in their most recent matchup against the 49ers.
"There's a lot of life to this team," Baldinger said. "There's a lot to like."
Specifically, Baldinger looks at the turnovers created by this Steelers defense. There's a fumble caused by T.J. Watt. There's Devin Bush seemingly magnetized to the ball any time it hits the turf. There's Minkah Fitzpatrick, straight from the bus stop, as Baldinger puts it, forcing a fumble and snagging an interception.
The Steelers are tied for fifth in the league with a plus-three turnover differential in 2019 and tied for second with seven total turnovers forced (five fumbles and two interceptions). This was a huge point of emphasis for the squad throughout training camp, OTAs and preseason, as they finished 28th in the league with a minus-11 differential, forcing just 15 turnovers (eight interceptions and seven fumbles) for the entire 2018 season.
So far, however, that hasn't translated into the league's most important statistic: Wins.
The Steelers get the chance to break their winless streak against the equally winless Bengals Monday night at Heinz Field.
Like Baldinger, I see plenty to like with this aggressive Steelers defense. The turnovers, however, mean little if the offense can't turn them into points, and the Steelers struggled there, scoring just six points off their first two turnovers on the day against the 49ers, with the Steelers' O beginning both drives in San Francisco territory. In fact, the Steelers forced four of their five turnovers in the first half, but took just a 6-3 lead into halftime.
That won't cut it.
Couple that with the fact the team has given up 33, 28 and 24 points in the first three games, and it's clear turnovers alone won't cut it for this defense. They're vulnerable across the middle, and they were gassed late against the 49ers, giving up run after run after run en route to their 24-20 defeat. That all has to get better moving forward, and the Bengals present a solid opportunity to do just that.
All that negativity aside, however, I do agree with Baldinger here. You can see the makings of something special when you watch this defense play. But right now, they're just ingredients. It's up to Keith Butler, Mike Tomlin and company to figure out the recipe.