Film Room: Steelers NT Steve McLendon Versus Browns In Week 17

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expecting big things out of nose tackle Steve McLendon in his first season as a starter and we got a good look at what the former undrafrted free agent out of Troy could really do in the 2012 season finale against the Cleveland Browns.

Keep in mind that McLendon only played 11 snaps in that game and he did so against Alex Mack, who is considered by many to be one of the top six or seven centers currently in the league.

Let\’s have a look at four of those snaps from that game in animated GIF form:

Steve McLendon Animated GIF Steelers Browns Week 17 - 1

McLendon doesn\’t get off the ball incredibly well in this first quarter running play as Mack certainly has the angle and the leverage on him. McLendon does, however, use Mack\’s momentum against him and he slips the block in order to fill the hole and get in on the tackle.

Steve McLendon Animated GIF Steelers Browns Week 17 - 2

The very next play on that Browns series the Steelers defense runs a simple zone cross blitz underneath cover-3 coverage. McLendon\’s job is to fill the B-gap on the strong side of the offense and he does so effectively. While the blitz fails to get home, McLendon\’s pressure and ability to get into the passing game forces a bad throw from quarterback Thaddeus Lewis that is behind wide receiver Greg Little. McLendon is credited with a quarterback hit on the play. Yes, Little should have caught the pass even though it was behind him, but McLendon did his job on the play nonetheless.

Steve McLendon Animated GIF Steelers Browns Week 17 - 3

Later in that same drive the Browns try to run a toss sweep to their left. Both McLendon and Ziggy Hood do a good job at tying up three offensive Browns offensive linemen which enables linebacker Larry Foote to stay covered up and flow to the play for a four yard loss. McLendon does lose his feet on this play, however, but it can be forgiven being as he kept the center of the field tied up.

Steve McLendon Animated GIF Steelers Browns Week 17 - 4

On a play late in the third quarter, McLendon and defensive end Cameron Heyward run a simple tackle end stunt. Notice McLendon getting his right arm out on the guard in case the switch is effectively run by Mack and left guard John Greco. An offensive line breakdown? Sure, but McLendon\’s quickness still allows him to get in for a half a sack on the play just the same. Even if he doesn\’t get there, Heyward easily will.

Those four plays that highlighted resulted in a net loss of 5 yards and McLendon played a part in each and every one of them. This is exactly what we expect to see from him in 2013.

  • cencalsteeler

    Every non Steeler fan should know McLendon’s name by the end of the 13 season.

  • steeltown

    Very nice work here Bryan

    In the limited tape we have on McLendon you can clearly see why the coaches are high on him, he is quick off the snap and he’s strong and by now he knows the Defense inside out. In my opinion, the main concern with McLendon is whether he can play effectively week in and week out as a full time starter, being that he hasn’t received significant snaps

  • steeltown

    Man im excited to see McLendon and more Heyward this year!!

  • TJimmy

    First there was Big Snack… now we have Big Mac(k)

  • Chris Ward

    Can’t wait to see McLendon start a full season at NT. A credit to McLendon for his hard work and determination after being undrafted out of Troy and being cut a couple of times by the Steelers. Also a credit to John Mitchell for working with McLendon and developing him into a starter on the Steelers defense.

  • colingrant

    I’m curious to see how he responds to being an every down player. Most of Steelers nation (me included) are hopeful and somewhat excited after seeing his productivity in limited time last year. Personally, I’d rather see him at Defensive End, (in place of Ziggy) but he’s at NT for now. The question remains however, can he hold the point as Snack has done for a decade. LeBeau and Butler have both claimed the DT is the most important position on the defense. They contend, the defense runs plays, similar to an offense, where Snack literally created holes designed for LB’s to shoot through. This has worked better than well for a number of years. Excellence at the position requires selflessness, stamina, strength, discipline and size. While being quick off the ball or shooting through gaps provides instant “playmaking” recognition, the question is can he play that way AND be effective in the Steelers “system”. While it’s easy to suggest the coaches should play to his strengths, then that would mean a significant change in defensive philosophy. If he uses his quickness to shoot through gaps, it might be a great play on one instance, but a critical error on 3 other instances. An interesting situation which will reveal itself in time.

  • Madi

    This is the best kind of article you guys can do. Keep ’em coming! If you’re taking suggestions, I’d love to see Ziggy Hood, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, David DeCastro, and Cortez Allen.

  • dgh57

    I wonder in that last short film clip if Alex Mack has seen anyone as quick as that?

  • VaDave

    I agree. I love these GIF as well as the commentary that goes along with it. Just watching the game on the tele, you tend to “Follow the ball”, but when you do, you miss a lot of the game within the game. Thanks guys.

  • Shea Fahr

    I love the Steelers Depot Film Room because….tape does not LIE.

  • Shea Fahr

    I agree and Alex better get used to it…at least 2 times a year now right?

  • Amuzon12

    I agree as well. It’s great to catch a glimpse of the Steelers in action and to follow along with the writer’s analysis. Great article Dave!

  • Steelerstroy43

    Dude, your pic is really not appropriate for this forum.

  • cencalsteeler

    A predominately male heterosexual bunch of males talking football and this avatar is not appropriate? Wow!!! This coming from someone who starts their sentences with “Dude”?

  • Jason White

    Its absolutely appropriate and very welcomed haha

  • Shea Fahr

    ummm…I actually really like his Avi but that is just me……..

  • Steelerstroy43

    But it’s not ALL adult males nor should it be assumed it is… That’s my problem… Dude.

  • Madi

    Yes, mostly naked ladies are acceptable in any context, anywhere there are heterosexual men, as long as there are ONLY heterosexual men. Mostly naked ladies become unacceptable if there’s a chance there could be some women or gay men. This makes perfect sense. That is why it’s inappropriate.
    Do I have that right?

  • Steelerstroy43

    You don’t, actually. I don’t want my young son to not be able to read steelers depot because this pic is on here.

  • cencalsteeler

    If your son is knowledgeable enough to read this site, then I’m guessing he is knowledgeable to understand how beautiful women are. Unless you live in a cave in Alaska, he WILL be exposed to provocative women, it’s inevitable ( I suggest you never vacation in California). But, in his honor, I do not want to keep a young guy from learning more about our beloved Steelers, therefore I will change it for him.

  • Madi

    Is it just me or is it really small, too? You can barely make it out. It could just as well be The Incredible Hulk washing his hair.
    And yeah, if you don’t want your son to see women revealing as much as that one is, you should not only stay in Alaska, you should also make sure you don’t get any JC Penney catalogs. And definitely don’t let him use the internet.

  • Mike.H

    as long as no “trutes” showing; all is fair game.

  • walter mason

    I think we will see more sacks from the DT than we have in many years.

    I love how, in the first GIF, I think its Timmons, who literally pushes down #72, a 320 pound OT, almost into the RB and while Mack is trying to hold McClendon, it opens up a hole for Timmons to help with the tackle from the backside..

  • steeltown

    You are a bigger man than I.. Im not sure what constitutes “appropriate” but damn society just needs to stop with this ‘everything is offensive’ and ‘you dont have the right’ mentality. I think if Bryan didn’t have an issue with it than everyone else can just deal

  • steves

    McLendon does a good job at Nose Guard. His quickness is something we been lacking and will bring an added dimension to the D-Line we have not see in some time. I am looking forward to zeroing in on him to see what Steve can do, to keep his man Honest. Should take a few O-Lineman to keep him off the QB.

  • cencalsteeler

    I respect this website and the people who post, so I don’t wish to cause any controversy with anyone. The thing that baffles me is he takes offense to my little avatar on a football website. Last time I checked, the NFL employs cheerleaders who wear close to nothing on the sidelines. How does that make sense?

  • steeltown

    Exactly..must be tough to go shopping what with all the inappropriately dressed manikins at the mall or attractive women on magazine covers lining the shelf at the local grocery store..
    I respect that you didn’t want to cause controversy though

  • Steelerstroy43

    I didn’t say I took offense to it, I said it wasn’t appropriate for this public forum. You have the right to use it unless otherwise told by the moderators but it doesn’t make it appropriate. Regardless of whether I feel my opinion was “respected” on here or not, thank you for changing it. I appreciate very much your willingness to do it.

  • sgtrobo

    Yep. McLendon showed an ability to actually penetrate the defensive line, something Casey hasn’t been able to do in years. Yet somehow, McLendon only warrants a handful of snaps each game. Against Baltimore, Heyward puts up the best game at LDE that we’ve seen since Aaron Smith was last healthy, yet he only warrants a handful of snaps each game. Cortez Allen manages to tie Lawrence Timmons in forced turnovers in 2012, yet he only warrants a handful of snaps each game. Keisel was still suffering from the ill-affects of the groin injury for the first half dozen or so games this season, but McLendon and Heyward barely sniffed the field during a time that Keisel COULD’VE been healing. LeBeau really needs to release the anti-young dude stance he seems to demonstrate. The irony is if he didn’t work his vets so hard, they may have lasted longer.

  • blustrk

    What am I missing? I see a steel worker punting the ball off of a girder. (?)