The linebacker position has long been central to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ success throughout their modern history. They’re certainly invested in the position. Head coach Mike Tomlin has drafted three inside linebackers in the first round since he’s gotten here, and had brought in other pedigreed and decorated players to fill those roles.
This year, they have a pairing of Devin Bush, their 2019 first-round pick, with Joe Schobert, a former Pro Bowler, and a recent trade acquisition. The latter was only acquired in August, and has undergone an adjustment process throughout the year, not just with the defense, but in building a relationship with Bush.
“It’s good”, he said of his relationship with the first-rounder. “Devin’s a young guy. He’s coming, obviously, off of injury last year. I joined a week or two before the season started, so it’s growing. The more you understand how each other plays on the football field, the more you can talk on the sideline, understand what each other’s thinking, and that’s growing very positively, I think”.
Schobert is second in tackles for the Steelers this year with 50, though that’s really somewhat off of his pace, having put up over 100 tackles in each of the previous four years, including three years of 130-plus tackles, with a high of 144.
He has had to adjust since coming to Pittsburgh, in many ways, including, for the first time as a starter, actually coming off the field. In three of the previous four seasons, he played 99 of the snaps or more, with the lowest being 95 percent. He has only played 86 percent of the Steelers’ snaps.
But he isn’t focused on what his role is not. He has just been committed to learning what he is supposed to do and how he is supposed to work with those who are around him, and I do think that we have seen a growth in consistency from him in recent weeks, and growth in his relationship with Bush.
“Just being out there, for me, understanding a lot of my stuff as my position, he’s helped me along the way when I first got here”, he said, “and now as I’ve grown in understanding of the defense, I’m able to communicate back and forth about things we’re seeing and be on the same page in that sense”.
As for Bush, he could be having a better season. Having missed one game due to injury, he has 33 tackles on the year. He does have two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery, but overall, he hasn’t had the sort of impact expected, and the plays that he doesn’t make are of the greatest concern.