2021 Offseason Questions: How Will Schobert Look Setting Defense In Opener?

Joe Schobert and Keith Butler

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: How will Joe Schobert perform while setting the defense by the season opener?

The Steelers managed to add a new starting inside linebacker in the middle of training camp, acquiring former Pro Bowler Joe Schobert via trade. He has played in only one preseason game with the team, which occurred within a week of his stepping on the field.

His tentativeness was apparent in his play, which should not have been a surprise. He is learning a new defense while simultaneously being asked to hold the primary responsibility of getting said defense set for each play. It’s not incredibly difficult to do overall, but it takes time to learn it.

Schobert did not play in the preseason finale. He has had another two weeks learning the defense since his lone in-stadium appearance to date in the black and gold, and he’ll still have another week, giving him the better part of a month’s worth of time logged in the system before he has to play a meaningful snap.

Will that have been enough time for him to get up to speed and play the way they expect him to while still setting the defense? Do we know for sure that he is actually going to set the defense, or will that assignment be handed back to Devin Bush if they feel confident in his ability to play 100 percent of the snaps?

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