A week ago today, the Pittsburgh Steelers officially welcomed the opportunity to add veteran inside linebacker Joe Schobert into the fold, and it didn’t take long for them to install him into their system. He saw his first on-field action during last night’s preseason game, over the course of which he wore the green dot and played into the second half.
As it naturally would under such pressing circumstances, the night left something to be desired for a player with such a substantial resume as he, something that he readily acknowledged, finishing the game with just three tackles, one of which came only after he trailed in coverage on a play and failed to bring the receiver down prior to moving the sticks.
Speaking after the game, he acknowledged that he had some concerns with his ability to grasp the defense quickly enough to also hold the responsibilities of relaying the defensive signals and setting the defense, suggesting that it caused him to play slow, but he felt it would come in time, and with the help of his teammates.
“Having veterans on this team at every level, coming into it as a new player and a new scheme, has been a huge boon for me”, he said after the game. “Those guys have been doing a great job. They communicate all of their responsibilities and my responsibility. When I’m in coverage, or rushing with Cam [Heyward] and those guys, they do a good job, and it’s great for me to have a group like them around me”.
The circumstances under which the Steelers acquired Schobert have been somewhat obfuscated by conflicting accounts, but from Pittsburgh’s point of view, it was they who fielded a call from the Jacksonville Jaguars to gauge their level of interest in acquiring the linebacker.
Given that it took Jacksonville to agree to pick up half of Schobert’s salary this year, in exchange only for a sixth-round pick, it would be reasonable to deduce that it was the Jaguars who were more motivated to complete a transaction, but the Steelers consider themselves the beneficiary of a great opportunity, not unlike the Miami Dolphins making Minkah Fitzpatrick available just 18 games into a career that now includes two first-team All-Pro recognitions.
As Schobert implied, though, the role of communication is a team-wide responsibility. Being able to process, interpret, and relay the defensive signals is a valuable skill the difficulty of which should not be diminished, but he is not alone out there, and the rest of the defenders will even assist him in what he ought to do until he is up to full speed, which I have no doubt will come by the time the regular season rolls around.