2021 Offseason Questions: Will Joe Schobert Have Defense Down In Time To Start Season?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?

These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.

Question: Will Joe Schobert have the defense down in time for the start of the regular season?

The Steelers are spending the next few weeks between now and the start of the regular season getting Joe Schobert up to speed on their defense. That is essential either way, since he’s a starter, but if they expect him to be able to set the defense, it’s pretty important for that assignment as well.

Despite being in the system for less than a week, Pittsburgh had him out there on Saturday with the green dot setting the defense, but he looked tentative, and admitted as much after the game, expressing some concern about his level of processing speed, and acknowledged that it caused him to play slower than he normally would.

It’s not a matter of the role itself, though, but rather of familiarizing himself with the defense, because he has experience with multiple different teams in multiple different systems wearing the green dot and relaying the plays from the sideline.

He still has a few weeks before the Steelers have to play a meaningful game. Will he and the team be in a comfortable place by that point with where he is in terms of his ability to both get everybody lined up and play with the quickness that they need him to?

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