In the wake of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Sunday loss to the Bears, one of the players that has been most in the crosshairs has been inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who indeed had some negative plays, including a handful of missed tackles. But he also made several plays of his own.
This wasn’t one of them, early in the game on a first-and-10 run. But he is in part just trying not to be caught inside by the pulling lineman, with nobody to replace him. This is an example of an instance in which the Steelers should have had a safety in the box.
Another play later on the drive shows what Shazier can bring to the table. His speed allowed him to cross gaps and chase down the running back on first and goal after gaining just one yard.
It’s something that we saw him do several times throughout the game, and is, frankly, the reason that the Steelers drafted him. His sideline-to-sideline coverage is unparalleled at his position. Not a lot of linebackers can make this play.
Time and again his speed was evident, and it also shows up in his ability to avoid blocks, which comes in handy on screens. Though this play was on second and 29, it’s still notable in preventing a bigger gain to set up a manageable third-down situation. He ended up making the tackle then, too, after another screen pass for 10 yards.
It doesn’t just have to be linemen working up to the second level. He embarrassed the Bears’ fullback by slipping past him and stripping the ball from the running back, recovering the ball himself. All because he couldn’t be reached.
Here is just another example of what he was doing throughout the day. Shazier had a number of run stops, which might be hard to remember, unfortunately, because of the way that the game turned out.
He wasn’t thrown off by the misdirection on this run late in the second half, stringing the runner out to the perimeter before bringing him down for a loss.
This is not intended to be a representative sample of Shazier’s body of work in the game overall, but rather a demonstration of his abilities and what he can bring to the table that a replacement player could not match. Certainly, he made his mistakes in the game, but he is getting more flak than his performance merited.