The transition from being a Jacksonville Jaguar as the preseason began to becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler just weeks before the start of the regular season was, as Joe Schobert described it, a “whirlwind”. Not helping make that any easier was that Schobert was immediately tossed in as the Steelers’ starter at inside linebacker, and given the responsibility of wearing the “green dot,” signifying him as the defensive leader and the one relaying signals to his teammates from the coaches on the sideline.
That’s a lot on the plate of a new arrival, even one with a Pro Bowl to his credit like Schobert. He has taken it all in stride for the Steelers, and will make his in-game debut for the team tomorrow night against the Detroit Lions in the team’s third preseason game. Ahead of that contest, Schobert spoke with Missi Matthews for the team website, and mentioned a lot of the people who have helped him make the transition following his trade to becoming one of the key players on the Steelers’ defense.
“I’ve had a lot of meetings with coach [Keith] Butler, the defensive coordinator, a lot of individual meetings with him getting installation. Devin [Bush] and Robert [Spillane] have been great, just when I have questions on the field,” Schobert said. “Coach Jerry [Olsavsky] has been a good sounding board. Every time I come off the field, if I have questions, I can just ask and he’s been very good at teaching me on the fly and practice on what my roles and what my responsibilities are on certain plays that we had just ran.”
Schobert is learning from two long-time coaches in the NFL, specifically long-time coaches with the Steelers. Butler, the DC, and Olsavsky, the inside linebackers coach, have held those positions with Pittsburgh for the last six years, but have been with the team even longer. Butler has another 11 years with the franchise as a linebackers coach prior to that, while Olsavsky served as a defensive assistant for the Steelers for five seasons prior to inheriting Butler’s job coaching linebackers.
The duo have been instrumental in developing linebackers over the last six years. In that time, they have overseen Ryan Shazier at his peak as well as the tail end of Lawrence Timmons’ career. Vince Williams grew into a legitimate starter under their tutelage, and Devin Bush produced one of the best rookie seasons for a Steeler defender in recent memory. Robert Spillane is the latest product of it, going from a Titans UDFA cast-off into a projected starter for the franchise prior to the trade for Schobert.
Bush and Spillane, as Schobert mentioned, have been team-first and played a big role in his assimilation, as well. Both are doing so with a player who, in a way, is replacing them. Schobert, not Bush, will be wearing the green dot and signaling in calls from the sideline to the rest of the defense, while Spillane went from Bush’s expected running mate in the starting lineup to a backup player once again.
The two have been instrumental in getting the former Brown adjusted in time to make an impact Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. So has the rest of the defense, who Schobert made sure to credit, as well.
“I think all of those guys, and then everybody on the defense, when I’m out there, safeties and defensive linemen, they played in the system for a long time, are doing a great job of leading me along,” Schobert said.
Schobert has two games to get fully ingrained into the Steelers’ defense. The first is tomorrow night against the Lions, and the second is next Friday night, against the Carolina Panthers.