The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Tyler Matakevich
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 1 Year
I really am not even entirely sure who should be second on this list here at the backup inside linebacker position after Vince Williams, who is likely ascending into the starting lineup following the free agent departure of Lawrence Timmons. For now I think I have to assume that it is Tyler Matakevich, a second-year former seventh-round draft pick.
It seemed as though L.J. Fort opened as the top backup last year, but late in the year he was released to make room on the roster. He was only re-signed because Steven Johnson got injured. So how could I put him on the list as the top backup when the team considered him the bottom of a six-man totem pole?
So Matakevich it is, who got very little playing time on defense as a rookie, but did have a period of opportunity in one game in which he made something like seven tackles in a row and 9 tackles within 12 plays, or something to that effect. Not that they were all incredible run stops or anything, but that does go to show that his reputation for always being around the ball is justified.
He did have an interesting preseason, recording 15 tackles and an interception with a pass defensed, including two games in which he recorded six tackles in each, and there were a couple of notable stops mixed in for that group.
I don’t have a list handy but I believe Matakevich may have ended up leading the Steelers in special teams tackles. if not him, then it was Anthony Chickillo. Those two have embraced their role on special teams, frankly, in ways that I didn’t think they would be able to, but they are becoming standouts in that regard, the way Williams did before them.
There is a lot to like about Matakevich on the football field, and I think that starts to get overlooked when we start to contemplate what would happen if Ryan Shazier gets injured and we assume he is the next man up.
Is he too slow to be able to do what the Steelers would ask him to do? Well, there is a reason he was taken in the seventh round in spite of all of his great qualities. Still, I’m looking forward to his second-year progression.