Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have at long last gotten former first-round pick Bud Dupree back on the field—the second-year outside linebacker logged 20 snaps on Thursday against the Colts after playing just a single snap on Sunday in Cleveland—the inevitable juggling of playing time has commenced, and so far it appears to be Arthur Moats who is going to be short—changed the most of all.
Moats, who already was demoted behind Anthony Chickillo as the starting left outside linebacker, recorded two sacks against the Browns on Sunday, which gave him 3.5 for the season, and the team lead in sacks, briefly, until James Harrison passed it on Thursday with his sack.
The nominal starter entering each of the past two seasons, Moats played 27 snap on Sunday while recording his two sacks, or about 41 percent of the playing time. On Thursday against the Colts, he saw just 17 snaps, representing 27 percent of the total.
And you have to figure that as Dupree gets more and more back into the rhythm of the game, he is going to demand more and more playing time. His 20 snaps was just 32 percent of the total. Harrison, meanwhile, played just under half the snaps, and Jarvis Jones saw 26 snaps, or 41 percent.
I do not know if giving five different outside linebackers 20 or so snaps a game is a sustainable strategy, and I also don’t know if that is what the Steelers are planning on trying to do moving forward initially, but that is what they did on Thursday.
They also have been spending more time moving their outside linebackers to either side of the field, particularly when it comes to moving the rushers on the left side to the right, but Jones and Harrison have both seen some time on the opposite side as well.
Chickillo was the biggest beneficiary of this movement, as his garnering snaps on both the left and the right side resulted in him leading the way at the outside linebacker position in terms of snaps played with 32, representing over half of the Steelers’ total defensive snaps.
While Moats has never been anything flashy, he has been solid, and has often been short-changed by the coaching staff and the fan base to a greater extent than is merited. He has been demoted from the starting lineup in each of the past three seasons, but has, in spite of that, remained a solid contributor.
To put it bluntly, the Steelers’ decision process when it comes to the outside linebacker position would be a lot more simple, and a lot more streamlined, if somebody would simply step up and take the reins, and seize a job for himself. The only reason that they are dabbling in this active rotation, which they wanted to move away from this year, is because they do not have the sort of talent that would be able to do so.