The loss of Ryan Shazier for the remainder of the season is a tragic loss. Ryan's injury rips at the heart strings of his teammates, coach's and “Steeler Nation”. We pray for him as do all with compassion in their hearts.
He leaves behind enormous shoes to fill. In fact, they can't be filled. He was that damn good!
However tragic his injuries; Ryan wants the Steelers to be crowned Super Bowl Champions as well.
Here are the Steelers options to replace; the irreplaceable.
Matakevich is a hard working, hard hitting hustler. He is a work in progress.
Moats or Arthur is also hard working, well liked and he's fast. He steady and solid. However in the game against the Ravens he did not “flow” as an inside LB should. He looked lost at times.
Spence, forgeta' about it! He hasn't played since leather helmets were in vogue and in his five years he's yet to find a home with any of the three teams he has played for.
That leaves only Fort, L.J.
Fort too has not caught on with any of his three teams. Recently the Steelers liked him best as a practice player willing to take league min and act as a battering ram for the Steelers O-Line during practice.
The attributes that a solid inside LB should posses are:
1/Strength: He must be strong enough with his upper body and hands to get off the block of O-Linemen that outweigh him and often times tower over him. If he can get off the block he has a good chance to make the inside tackle. His legs must be like steel beams to run through a lineman and through the runner.
2/Lateral and Forward movement: His feet must be fast. He must “key through the O-Linemen” and “Flow” to the ball.
3/Anger: You want and need your Inside LB's to arrive violently and with great anger when destroying the ball carrier.
Where will the Steelers find such a beast?
I spent the three weeks at this years Steelers training camp broadcasting my radio show overlooking the practice field in Latrobe. Before each practice I went down on the field.
After the team did their initial stretches, the "O" went onto one field and the "D" went on the far side practice field.
While the rest of the reporters stayed on the easy side where the "O" did their initial drills; I ran down and followed the "D".
Tunch and Wolf and Jim Wexall were the only ones I ever saw down there with me throughout the three weeks.
I watched intently as all the LB's would line up and do ten forty yard sprints. Chickalow won most of them as Coach Tomlin cheered them on.
Then Outside LB's would go with Coach Porter and Inside LB's would go with my old team mate at PITT, Coach Jerry Olasalfsky.
I can tell you what I saw.
Immediately I saw that when TJ Watt ran the gauntlet of the four standing dummy bags in front of him; he got around them quick. When he slapped the bag as he went by the bag his bag moved further than the other Inside LB's. His strength showed through. I was impressed.
James Harrison wore his now infamous warm up suite during training camp. Man, he must have been hot.
He was fast, quick and the bag moved violently when he hit it.
I have heard people say this year; ""Dee-Bo" has lost his speed. Really? How do you know that? He's played a handful of snaps so far. Did something happen I don't know about? I stood only fifteen yards from the man on the practice field in Latrobe and I can tell you that you would not want a forty year old, angry, "Dee-Bo" chasing you!
Did you watch his off-season strength training video's on You Tube? Ask any of the Steelers who the strongest man on the team is? Yep, that's right, "Dee-Bo"!
Where will the Steelers find such a beast to replace Ryan?
Look no further than James Harrison!
James has recently stated that if he knew he would not play this year he would have signed elsewhere.
His pissed he is not playing!
He is the strongest man on the team! Watch his workouts on You Tube!
He is the All-Time sack leader with 74.5! Meaning his forward and lateral movements are exceptional. Do you really think that the same man who was lightening quick off the edge last year and saved the day against the Chief's has lost a step?
Ask any QB that has ever been hit by James if he “arrives angry”. Need I say more!
The other attribute you get with moving Harrison inside is this.
He's PISSED OFF that he's not playing this year!
And I assure you when you get hit by a strong, quick and PISSED OFF inside “Line-Jacker” it hurts!
I have been hit by some of the game's very best! Chris Doleman, Troy Benson and I have been run over by "Iron-Head Hayward". God rest his soul.
You remember "Bull Fralic", he's recognized as the Greatest College Offensive Linemen ever to play the game. Yeah, him too as I played scrub team Inside LB at PITT.
I have been hit so hard on the game field that I stumbled off in a daze and puked on the sideline. I know what it feels like to have your bell rung in an era when "Ear-Holing" a guy was still legal. If you don't know what "Ear-Holing" was; then you don't know football, Cupcake!
"Dee-Bo" needs to be able to do two things well for this to work.
1/Control the inside ground from Center to TE. Clog the hole up, create a pile and wait for the "Marines" to come!
2/Pass Coverage: Drop back 5-10 yards in the middle/right flats and stop the TE crossing patterns! Or float out to the "Flats"
Who amongst "Steelers Nation" really thinks JH CAN NOT HANDLE this responsibilities?
It's either "Dee-Bo" or old #55 from PITT, Jerry Olsafsky!
Or let the "Spence Experiment" continue.
This may be the Steelers last chance with Big Ben to win another Super Bowl. The Steelers must pull out all the punch's and have no regrets.
The saddest words of all are, "What If? What if? What if?"
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