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Return Of Matt Spaeth Helping Offense Find Identity


By Matthew Marczi

For much of the season, the Steelers have by and large stayed away from heavily using multiple tight end sets, especially after losing David Johnson for the season and before Heath Miller was back from his knee injury.

That wasn’t exactly the plan entering the season. The Steelers brought back Matt Spaeth in order to be the blocking tight end, but that plan was derailed when he suffered a Lisfranc injury in training camp.

The injury caused him to miss the first three months of the season before finally returning two weeks ago against the Miami Dolphins.

Though they deployed him early and often, using him on the majority of their second, long scoring drive, they overall eased him in with about 15 total snaps.

That was not the case this past game against the Cincinnati Bengals, as they featured him on nearly 80 percent of the offensive plays, as opposed to just barely more than 20 percent the week prior.

Granted, some of that was naturally the result of the Steelers jumping out to an early 24-0 lead at home.

Nevertheless, with Spaeth back, it’s clear that the offense is gradually looking more and more as Todd Haley and the rest of the organization envisioned it this offseason as the pieces slowly fall in place.

Although Pro Football Focus gives Spaeth a terrible grade for his run blocking, I suspect that this will change at least somewhat during their mid-week reviews when they make corrections, perhaps based on the coaches film.

Based upon my own observations, I feel as though the offense was certainly aided by Spaeth’s return. His block on Le’Veon Bell’s touchdown run certainly looked like a good one at the very least.

At one point in the game, he was flagged for what looked to me like somewhat of a questionable holding call that negated an eight-yard run from Bell. On the next play, he was blocking downfield on a running back screen that went for 17 yards.

Because the Steelers jumped out to such a large lead early on, they ended up running the ball quite a bit, more than they usually do, which may have influenced how many snaps Spaeth ended up playing.

It will be interesting to see how much, and in what capacity, the Steelers continue to use him over the last two games. Known primarily as a run blocker, they did use him five times in pass protection. In contrast, Miler was left in just twice while going out for 24 passes.

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About Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • CrazyTerry

    I didnt care for his blocking in his first go around with the Steelers. He did seem improved a tad with Chicago. So hopefully, we will see more of that in his second stint.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Me neither, but, although I think he wasn’t any good this week, he was >>>>>>>> than any other #2 TE on this team this year. Bring in a real blocking TE, please.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Spaeth is a real blocking TE. We have to remember that he just came back from foot surgery and needs time to get into game shape and game speed. I think he has done pretty well considering his limited time back. He’ll get better as time goes by.

  • Jacob Dixon

    Miller wasn’t good for a while after his 1st game so speath like miller has to get used to the speed of the game

  • Brandon James

    Agreed, I dont think you guys realize he was the #1 Blocking TE In the league per PFF with Chicago.

  • Dutchess Hershberger

    STEELERS NEED A YOUNG BEAST AT TIGHT END, WHOS IS ATHLETIC TALL AND CAN GET IT DONE IN THE RED ZONE, I GOT TOW NAMES FOR THEM OF PLAYERS THAT CAN BE HAD IN LATER ROUNDS THAT FIT THE BILL ::: ARTHUR LYNCH LOOKS LIKE THE 2 ND COMING OF HEATH, BUT GETS NO PLAY AT GEORGIA, THE 2ND AUSTIN SEFARIN JENKINS, LOOKS LIKE ERIC GREEN WITH BETTER ATHLETIC ABILITY

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