You may have noticed recently that Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier had another piece up in The Players’ Tribune, this time about some of the toughest players he or the Steelers have had to go up against. He got a bit of attention for naming his teammates, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell on the list.
He also drew some attention for another entry in his list, featuring a member of the Baltimore Ravens, and it happens to be the player with whom his career is linked: inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. The Ravens took Mosley in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft after the Steelers draft Shazier. He even noted that the comparisons between the two started while they were still in school—Shazier at Ohio State and Mosley at Alabama.
Mosley has had more success before, largely due to staying healthier than Shazier, but the Steelers inside linebacker has been closing the gap. And while they may be rivals, both in terms of draft status and in terms of the teams that they play for, Shazier can still appreciate what he does.
“Baltimore plays exactly the same way we play”, he wrote. “They play a little more man, but the philosophies are the same. As an MLB in our schemes, you have to be able to blitz, stop the run, and cover. It’s a three-tool position. C.J. has to play out in deep coverage a lot, and he does a great job”.
In order to prove his point, Shazier pointed to a nifty one-handed interception that Mosley had against the Jaguars. “If you watch how the play develops, C.J. has to cover a deep Over route by a receiver”, he said of the play in question. “That’s a long way from home. He tracks him 25 yards downfield and pulls it down on the backpedal”.
“For me, though, the MLB position is not about splash plays, and it’s not about stats”, he went on. “It’s about being the heartbeat of a team defense. Ever since C.J. came into the NFL three seasons ago, Baltimore’s defense has been in the Top 8. You have to respect that, because when you’re the MLB, you’re the anchor”.
Shazier was impressed enough by what Mosley has done since coming into the league as a 22-year-old and becoming the nucleus of a new Ravens defense that he compared the young linebacker to a Raven great, Ray Lewis.
“I always say, Ray Lewis had some great years on paper, for sure. But some years, if you just looked at the stats? They didn’t jump off the page. It didn’t matter, though. Baltimore was always a Top 5 defense, and he got respect for that”, he wrote.
“C.J. has the potential to make that defense click for a long time”, he concluded in his article…but not before mentioning, “we got Lev and AB though”, with a smiling emoticon. As for Shazier, I think he has the same sort of potential for the Steelers’ defense as Mosley has for the Ravens.