With Morgan Burnett missing for the past two weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had to turn to another body to command that dimebacker role in the defense when they turn to their pretty frequently used sub-packages with six or more defensive backs on the field.
Somewhat surprisingly, that player has been Nat Berhe, the other safety that the Steelers signed in free agency back in March. And to be quite honest, he had his fair share of struggles in trying to take over that role.
Now that he is on injured reserve, of course, the team needs a new number two dimebacker. At the moment, it sounds as though that number two might actually be a linebacker, as Matthew Thomas has been brought up over the course of the past two weeks.
But if it’s not him, then you’d have to figure that it would be veteran safety Jordan Dangerfield, who despite technically being a second-year player has actually been a member of the Steelers organization since its founding in 1933.
No safety on the roster should know the defense better than he does because he has been here longer than anybody else. In fact, he is just one of a few defensive players currently on the 53-man roster who was actually coached by Dick LeBeau. I believe only four other defensive players can claim that.
Personally, I would have chosen to play Dangerfield over Berhe. I believe Dangerfield’s quality of play during the preseason over the past few decades has been above the line, and let’s not forget that he has started a couple of games and played well in game.
It’s fair to say that he is best suited to playing in the box, even if he is the smallest safety on the roster, by at least two inches and, in all but one case, at least 10 pounds. But he has produced some of the biggest hits the Steelers have seen in the preseason over the past several years.
If Burnett returns to practice and ends up playing this week, of course, the whole discussion is going to be rendered largely meaningless, at least until he gets injured again, which—sorry to say—seems like a pretty safe bet.
Burnett is obviously going to play as long as he is healthy. The only alternative for Dangerfield to get on the field that doesn’t involve injury is if the Steelers choose to bench Terrell Edmunds, which frankly isn’t really all that unrealistic given the mistakes he has made. If the team loses a couple more games, and he continues to struggle and contribute to those losses, I would even call it a predictable move.