There might not be one single concern for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season bigger than the play that they will be able to get out of the inside linebacker position, and the hopes of a reasonable performance are largely being tied to free agent addition Jon Bostic who has slowly but surely nudged slightly ahead of Tyler Matakevich based on reps.
Bostic logged a lot of time against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, and will surely log quite a bit tonight, but before we get into the Packers game, let’s refresh our memories about what we saw out of the Steelers’ potential next starter.
On the first defensive play of the game, the first thing that we see from Bostic is his ability to shift laterally in order to avoid a blocker. The problem in this play is that that movement took him out of the hole through which the ballcarrier was going to run, which allowed the lineman to meet up with him and seal him out of the play.
Of course the play that has gotten the most attention was the one he didn’t make. On the Eagles’ next possession, they started at their own two-yard line when the punt team was able to punt the ball down deep. But the offense immediately flipped field position with a 22-yard run.
Bostic was the primary offender, though not the only one. While he was able to get to the hole in time, Jay Ajayi made a sharp cut to his left in front of the linebacker, with a slight stiff-arm to his shoulder, that saw him sprawling to the grass. This play had no business picking up more than a yard or two.
He would come to redeem himself in time, however, even on two plays on which he was not credited with a tackle or an assist, on back-to-back plays. On one second-and-10 play, he came in on the run blitz and fit inside the right tackle to get on Ajayi immediately. He didn’t finish the play, but his teammates did for a loss of four.
With the Eagles backed up into a third and 14, they simply tried to make something happen on the draw, but the defense closed quickly. Bostic showed the ability to shed a block (though not immediately), getting into the backfield to help finish the tackle.
At the moment, it appears as though Bostic is the best the Steelers have got as an answer at inside linebacker so far. Let’s hope he continues to answer questions as we move forward.