Pittsburgh Steelers backup offensive lineman Chris Hubbard made his first career start in Sunday’s win over the New York Jets and overall the former undrafted free agent represented himself extremely well at right tackle in place of injured starter Marcus Gilbert. In this film room post, we’ll take a look at a few of Hubbard’s plays in that game.
As far a handling twist and stunts against Jets powerful front four, Hubbard did quite well.
Below, you’ll see the Jets run a pirate stunt and that involves a defensive tackle and defensive end slanting across the face of the guard and tackle while another defensive tackle loops around to not only set containment on the outside, but rush the passer as well. At the snap, Hubbard effectively passes off Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson to guard David DeCastro after he crosses his face. He then readies himself for the looping defensive tackle, which in this case is Leonard Williams. Watch how Hubbard and DeCastro effectively stay on the same level while pickling this stunt up. In fact, the entire offensive line does a great job on this play.
On this next play that I chose, the Jets front runs a double twist with their four defensive linemen. Once again, Hubbard stays on the same level as DeCastro and easily passes the end off to him. Feet always moving, Hubbard sets a wide base and gets his arms out and hands active as he does battle with the twisting defensive tackle. He manages to work his opponent out the passing lane in order for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to hit his crossing wide receiver.
On this single stunt, Hubbard and DeCastro once again execute it flawslesly. The two offensive linemen stay on the same level and Hubbard not only easily picks up the twisting Sheldon Richardson, he removes him from Roethlisberger’s passing lane once again so he can hit a wide-open Le’Veon Bell thanks to a nice rub by tight end Jesse James. It doesn’t get much better than this.
While Hubbard didn’t have to handle much in the way of spin moves on Sunday against the Jets, when called upon to do so, like in this play below against Wilkerson, he mirrored well and kept his feet and hands active while staying square to his man. The result of the play was a touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to wide receiver Antonio Brown.
If there was anything to knock on Hubbard on when it came to his play against the Jets, it was his run blocking. While on the whole he executed well, he wasn’t flawless throughout the entire game. On this inside zone run, it begins with Hubbard and DeCastro double-teaming Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon. When DeCastro heads off to the second level, Hubbard never has solid leverage or footing and the big man uses the tackle’s poor balance to easily discard him for the tackle. I have two gifs of this play for you below and in the zoomed in one, I want you to watch Hubbard’s feet, especially the left one, and you can see how the tackle lost power and balance. In all fairness and as many of you should all know by now, McLendon isn’t bad against the run. While Hubbard did have a few nice run blocks in the game against the Jets, this wasn’t one of them.
With Gilbert now ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, Hubbard is in line to make another start. This time, however, he’ll be matched up against defensive end Mario Williams for the most part throughout the game. While Williams enters Sunday’s game with just one sack on the season, he has 97 for his career. Sometimes he’ll line up way wide so it will be interesting to see if Hubbard is able to handle his speed rush off the edge without over-setting. It should be a fun match up to break down after the game is over.