When you come to another team, whether by your choice or not, you have to be prepared to serve a role different from what you might have grown accustomed to expecting. This wasn’t something Melvin Ingram was willing to engage with, apparently. He’s not the only new face at linebacker dealing with changes in his norm, however.
While inside linebacker Joe Schobert is starting, he is coming off the field in the Steelers’ dime defense. In fact, they have had both of their starting inside linebackers coming off the field in dime, replaced by Robert Spillane. While nobody understands exactly why the coaching staff feels this is better, it is nevertheless something they have to accept, even if it is unusual for somebody used to playing every down.
“I think I’ve played a hundred percent of snaps for like the last four years or something on defense”, Schobert admitted. “It’s just weird for me to be out of a football game during it, but we have great personnel. We’ve got a coach who knows what he’s doing”.
“You just got to trust in the process, trust your teammates are going to do their jobs and know what your job is, your specific assignment on game day, and when we’re winning football games, there’s never a problem”, he added.
Winning certainly helps matters, and the Steelers are 5-3, currently on a four-game winning streak, which is generally the point at which they really started using this new dime configuration with Spillane as the dime linebacker, and Tre Norwood also coming onto the field after having previously given way to Arthur Maulet as the nickel.
Spillane, who started seven games last season due to injury, has logged 112 snaps through the Steelers’ first eight games, about 26 percent of the snaps. That included 53 snaps in Week 2, however, a game in which Devin Bush did not play due to injury.
He did not play on defense at all in any of the other first four games of the season, but has over the past four played at least 10 defensive snaps, going as high as 24 in the game against the Denver Broncos that started the winning streak.
Excluding the season opener, which Spillane missed due to an injury pre-game, the Steelers have not won a game this season in which Spillane was not the dime linebacker. That’s definitely correlation and not causation, but they’re not going to make a change if they’re winning games, as Schobert said, because “there’s never a problem” with your role when you’re winning. Except when there is, of course, as Ingram knows.