I’m not entirely sure why, but the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to give fourth-year outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo a considerable workload on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I’m guessing that it was for reasons beyond the fact that he is from the area.
In all, he saw 24 snaps on defense, which translated to nearly a third of the team’s total defensive snaps. The majority of those snaps came at the expense of Bud Dupree, who played 58 of 74 snaps, while T.J. Watt played 66. In case you’ve forgotten, Chickillo is the only outside linebacker on the 53-man roster beyond the starters, so it’s him or nobody.
That is in comparison to the 10 snaps that he saw last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, which was about 17 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. He also played 10 snaps in the season opener, which was just 11 percent of the Steelers’ snaps on that side of the ball, so he played more than twice as much on Monday even though they played fewer snaps in the game overall.
And in general, he seemed to manage to make the most of his playing time. That included what I would regard as unquestionably the best sack that he has had in his career up to this point, during which he beat not only a lineman but also a running back to record the pressure up the middle.
That sack also happened to come on third and eight, with the Buccaneers sitting on the Steelers’ 27-yard line. He dropped quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for a loss of nine yards on the play, pushing Tampa Bay back to the 36-yard line and forcing them to settle for a punt. While this took place back in the first quarter, I would remind you that the Steelers only won by a field goal.
That was the only official statistic that he recorded during the game, but he seemed to have a lot of success rushing the passer, registering a few hurries in the process. The majority of his snaps were on passing downs in which he rushed the passer, but he still had a solid success rate.
It was about the best that he has looked as a pass rusher up to this point in his career—but with that said, I’m not going to read much into it, at least until he is able to duplicate the feat. We will know if we have really seen something if his play dictates that the coaching staff award him more snaps.
Chickillo is a fourth-year player, which means that he is going to be an unrestricted free agent in 2019. The Steelers will have to decide whether or not he is a part of their future, and part of that decision will include evaluations of Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Keion Adams.