Pittsburgh Steelers first-year fullback Roosevelt Nix has established himself as a fan favorite this season, and it’s not hard to see why with a fan base such as the one the Steelers have. He is a blue collar player with a relentless motor and an underdog story to boot.
He was signed by the Steelers to play inside linebacker, but was moved to fullback to give him a chance to earn a roster spot, even though they figured to have Will Johnson entrenched in that role. Nix not only made the 53-man roster for his special teams prowess, however, he has also absorbed most of the snaps that Johnson would have gotten.
That does not mean, however, that he has worked himself into a Pro Bowl player just yet. In fact, Sunday night was not one of his better games by any stretch, in spite of the fact that he logged 19 snaps on offense, more than a quarter of the team’s total.
The first play of note came on the Steelers’ first offensive snap of the game, starting on their six-yard line following a defensive interception. Pittsburgh brought out its power offense in a 22 look with Nix lined up parallel with the left tackle. He looked to work the edge around the left side, but as DeAngelo Williams bounced the run out that way Robert Mathis slipped off the block to make the stop for a loss.
To his credit, he came back on the next play to help author the Steelers’ longest rushing play of the game, a 21-yard run through the A gap, with Nix serving as lead blocking out of the I formation. He fullback simply hit the hole first, wedging linebacker Nate Irving out of the way to allow Williams to slip through for a big gain.
The Steelers continue on the ground on all four of the first series’ four snaps, the final of which ended in a fumble. It started again out of the I formation with Nix coming through the left side A gap to hit the linebacker, only Irving was able to play off the glancing blow, freeing his play side arm and stripping the ball from Williams, with the Colts recovering.
Early in the second quarter, the Steelers started yet another drive backed up inside their own five. after a first-round incompletion, it was back to the ground game and out of the I. The play was blown up for a four-yard loss, but Nix did a good job executing a reach block to contain the edge defender. The Colts simply had the play lined up, with one more defender than the Steelers had blockers to that side.
In the fourth quarter, as Pittsburgh embarked on extended garbage time, Nix got back on the field with more consistency as the ground game became a priority again. This time he lined up parallel to the right tackle, working around the edge. He merely clipped the linebacker scraping toward the play, but Williams was able to run by for a six-yard gain.
We see in the above instances some of the issues that Nix still has in his game, particularly his ability to square up on a block from an angle, but his overall results from this game are admittedly an outlier. Regardless, the Steelers were able to run the ball effectively on Sunday, in part in spite of him, though occasionally thanks to him.