Is 38-year-old veteran outside linebacker James Harrison still the Pittsburgh Steelers best pass rusher entering the final seven games of the regular season? Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked that very question during his Tuesday press conference.
“We’ll see,” said Tomlin. “If you ask me who are best pass rusher is, it depends on when you ask me, or the nature of the matchups. All of those are part of the equation in terms of when we build our rush plan week in and week out. James has provided some quality work for us and I like his contributions.
“Obviously, we’ll look to those contributions to continue, but you’ve also got to acknowledge they’ve [the Cleveland Browns] got a guy over there at left tackle by the name of Joe Thomas who’s done a heck of a job blocking James and others over the course of his career.”
Like it or not, Tomlin probably should have said that Harrison is indeed currently the team’s best pass rusher. While he only has two sacks on the season, at least his technique is the most consistent when it comes to the five players in his position group.
Tomlin, however, was correct to praise Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas as he has indeed gotten the better of Harrison and other Steelers outside linebacker for the most part over the course of his career. With that said, Thomas looked mortal-like in his team’s Thursday night loss to the Baltimore Ravens as he struggled at times when it came to keeping linebacker Terrell Suggs away from the quarterback.
While Harrison is still regarded as a strong run defender, he wasn’t on the field for the final drive in Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys and Tomlin indicated that was a decision the coaches made.
The Steelers hope to get outside linebacker Bud Dupree finally on the field as early as this Sunday against the Browns and if that happens, he’ll likely be part of rotation on the left side. That means it will likely be Harrison and Jarvis Jones going up against Thomas at various points in the game.
While Tomlin might not be willing to say that Harrison is currently the team’s best pass rusher, I think we all know who isn’t and that’s Jones, who has yet to register a quarterback sack so far this season.