The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Rams don’t play each other very often. Unless they find themselves up against one another in the Super Bowl, it’s only once every four seasons that they cross paths on the football field. 2015 is the last time that they have encountered Aaron Donald professionally. Until today that is.
And they are hoping that, with the assistance of former Rams linebacker Mark Barron, they might be able to get some insight that they might not otherwise have. Barron, a former top-10 pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a safety in 2012, had been with the Rams since he was traded to them during the 2014 season, prior to signing with the Steelers in free agency this year.
Asked if he would take the time to pick Barron’s brain about the Rams’ defense this week, Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner told reporters, “I would be a fool not to”, according to Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“He knows all of their defensive signals, their calls, and all that”, Fichtner added. “Now, what all of that can be helpful to us? I don’t know, but it’s an awesome thing. Yeah, he was the first person I talked to”. Of course, he also added that the Rams now have Eric Weddle, who knows the Steelers offense pretty well as an opponent.
For his own part, Barron underplayed the usefulness of picking the brain of a former player for information about a current opponent. “I feel like some people do make too much of it”, he told Batko.
“I could tell them something, but they also have to go and watch the film, and a lot of what I would be saying is on film”, he added. “You can try to make what you want to make of having somebody who’s been in that scheme — don’t get me wrong, it helps — but at the same time, you’ll see the same stuff on tape”.
Since the Rams let Barron go, they have preferred to replace him within their defense with a third safety and to play more in a dime defense. Barron, a former safety, of course, was a more versatile component for them because of his background, so it shouldn’t be surprising.
Now with the Steelers, he is in somewhat of a rotation with Devin Bush and Vince Williams, though he still plays the majority of snaps. In the two games since the bye week, he has logged 92 total snaps, or around 70 percent or so of their total defensive snaps.