While they have only had to face him twice so far as a starter, the Pittsburgh Steelers have historically done a surprisingly good job of containing quarterback Lamar Jackson and preventing them from hurting him too badly with his mobility. They’ve even been able to force him to turn the ball over.
Given the way that they have defended quarterbacks with mobility in recent weeks, however, it’s hard to feel good about their prospects of controlling the former MVP in Sunday’s game. After all, they gave up 90 yards to Justin Herbert. They didn’t have T.J. Watt in that game, but they won’t have him in this game, either. They see what he’s done to other teams over the past few years.
“Everything goes in waves. I can’t predict the future, so I don’t know”, linebacker Joe Schobert told reporters yesterday when he was asked if he sees Jackson as the model for the quarterback of the future. “I hope there’s not 32 Lamar Jacksons in 10 years. Well, actually I do, because I’ll be watching football in 10 years, so it’ll be exciting”.
Schobert is in his sixth season in the NFL, and is 28 years old. There are not a ton of linebackers who are still playing at the age of 38, so he’s almost surely right about that. And, well, anybody who doesn’t find Jackson a fun play to watch…I don’t know. But it’s certainly not fun to try to stop him.
“He’s one of a kind. There’s nobody else in the NFL who really comes close to his skill set”, Schobert added. “He’s got a very specific skill set, and their offense is catered to him, and they do a good job running the football, play-action passes, and they can get the ball out there to his weapons. It’s just gonna be about containing him in the pocket, not letting him extend plays. That’s when he’s really dangerous, and that’s when the receivers are really dangerous”.
I don’t know that that is really the case, however, as you already have Kyler Murray in Arizona. You have Jalen Hurts with the Eagles and Justin Fields with the Bears who show the potential to have a similar skill set. It’s about building an offense around them that accentuates their strengths.
But they’re not facing Fields or Hurts or Murray. They already faced Fields earlier this year and had a difficult time containing him. That doesn’t bode well for their containment strategy on Sunday, especially if guys like Taco Charlton and Devin Bush are going to be key enforcers in that plan.
But who knows? Maybe 10 years from now the Steelers will have their own Lamar Jackson. Head coach Mike Tomlin is certainly interested enough in quarterback mobility to want to go that route if the right prospect is available.