I talked a little bit yesterday about the fact that, while it is technically true that Javon Hargrave is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ nose tackle and that the primary function of the nose tackle historically has been to stop the run, the fact of the matter is that he didn’t have much to do with the defense’s struggles to do so in that area.
The thing is, I actually wanted to focus that article on the fact that he has been something of a menace as a pass-rusher this season when he has been given the chance to do so. He already has two sacks on the season and another eight pressures on the quarterback.
He had one and three on Sunday in not more than a dozen opportunities to rush the passer, so I’m here to bring them to you, because that’s what I do.
The first pressure came toward the end of the first quarter. On third and five, with the Bears at the Steelers’ 31-yard line, they tried to leave Hargrave one-on-one with the center, but he immediately required help as the nose tackle flushed Mike Glennon out of the backfield and made him scramble short of the sticks.
Later in the game, he was able to beat the center again off his right shoulder. He tried to turn Hargrave wide but he was too quick and forced Glennon to speed up his pass to the back in the flat. If not for a missed tackle, this should have been another third-down stop for the defense influenced by Hargrave’s pressure.
He wouldn’t get his sack until later in the drive, though it did come on second and 14. Prior to the snap, he quickly shuffled from a four-tech position to a tilted one-tech, but took on the left guard, driving him into the backfield into Glennon’s lap until he could release and bring him down, not dissimilar from his first sack of the year.
Later, in the middle of the fourth quarter, he rushed from a zero-tech position head over center and used a stutter step to his right in order to blow by him off the opposite shoulder, flushing the quarterback out of the pocket, though he did complete the pass.
The Bears got so tired of trying to pass protect against Hargrave that by the end of the game they just started holding him. Seriously. As were so many holds on the day, however, it was not called.
It will be a big boost when Stephon Tuitt gets back on the field, for sure, but Hargave should have been playing more in his absence, and he should continue to play a healthy number of snaps once he returns. I think he’s earned it. He’s been very difficult to block.