The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly seem to have more talent on paper than what actually shows up on the field, though it has to be noted that injuries have played a role in that as well. Take, for example, their linebackers. You have a former top-10 draft pick paired up with a former Pro Bowler on the inside, but have they gotten that sort of play from Devin Bush and Joe Schobert over the past four weeks? Not really.
There are caveats even here, of course, or perhaps especially here. Bush missed most of last season with a torn ACL, and is still playing his way back from that. He also missed a game earlier this year with a groin injury. As for Schobert, the was only acquired via trade in August, so he has been learning on the fly.
“Based on the variables, Devin working himself back to health and Joe being new to us, it’s a work in progress but a work in progress that I think is going rather well”, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said yesterday when asked to assess the quality of product that has been delivered from his middle linebackers. “I’m excited about it continuing to improve and get better”.
So far on the season, Schobert is the Steelers’ leading tackler with 29 tackles, though that is just one more than defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. 12 of his tackles have been assists, and he has yet to register a tackle for loss. He also has three passes defensed. He has been charged with two missed tackles, and has allowed 11 completions for 129 yards and a touchdown, according to Pro Football Reference.
Bush, who missed one game, ranks fifth on the team in tackles with 18, including one tackle for loss. He has yet to record a pass defensed, but he has recorded a sack, and has produced a forced fumble, with two quarterback hits. He has allowed nine completions for 67 yards and one touchdown, with one missed tackle.
Overall, their play could certainly be worse, but it also could, and should, be better. And the Steelers need it to be better. They have been lacking in particular against the run, which is all the more important given that the defensive line is without Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt.