Is L.J. Fort A Starter? Now Somebody Ask Tomlin

Jon Bostic has played all of 25 snaps on defense over the course of the past two weeks. That’s 25 snaps out of 130. The Pittsburgh Steelers put him through a training camp competition with Tyler Matakevich to take over a starting job at inside linebacker, and he won, but now it appears that he’s lost it.

Not to Matakevich, but to L.J. Fort, who has played 105 snaps over the past two games, which amazingly along with Bostic’s 25 snaps adds up exactly to the 130 defensive snaps the Steelers have played in that span.

So Fort has played 80.8 percent of the Steelers’ defensive snaps over a two week span, and Bostic has played 19.2 percent. Can we assume that Fort is the starter now? That is something I would like to see somebody ask Head Coach Mike Tomlin today during his pre-game press conference.

While Bostic has been good against the run, and not as bad in coverage as some might say, outside of a few notable exceptions, Fort does offer the defense more options and flexibility than having the former Gator in the lineup.

Technically speaking, Sunday’s game was a start for Fort, as he was on the field with the defense for the first play of the game. It is the first time that he started a game since—well, literally the first game of his career. Due to a number of injuries, while he was a rookie with the Cleveland Browns, he started their season opener back in 2012.

He recorded three tackles, a sack, an interception, and two passes defensed, a hell of a debut, but he went straight to the bench the following week when their injured players returned. From September 9, 2012 to December 9, 2018. That is how long he waited to start a second game.

And while things have not been perfect, he has played well. He is a solid coverage player, but anybody is going to struggle against the most talented players that they are asked to cover. Big-name players have big games no matter who is defending them.

Fort has a career-high 39 tackles this season, including 12 tackles last week against the Los Angeles Chargers. He has a sack and three quarterback hits, as well as a fumble recovery for a touchown, though it’s somewhat baffling that he doesn’t have a pass defensed after having five over the final six games of the 2017 season after he started playing in the wake of Ryan Shazier’s injury.

But the question is now, is what has happened during the past two games going to continue to happen? Given that they have been facing passing offenses when this has occurred, and they have Tom Brady and Drew Brees coming up next, it would seem likely.

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