Steelers vs Bills Film Review: Vic So’oto

Nobody has made more key plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers during this preseason so far than outside linebacker Vic So’oto, a fourth-year former undrafted free agent on his sixth different team. But it’s largely been rookie Howard Jones receiving most of the headlines for picking up the fumbles that the 27-year-old has created.

In the preseason opener, So’oto got in front of a pass thrown behind the line of scrimmage, deflecting it, and thus making it a live ball. Though So’oto himself was in a position to pick up the ball, it was Jones who did so and returned it for a touchdown. Jones turned into the headline because it was also his second fumble recovery of the game.

Last week, with the game tied and only 31 seconds remaining, So’oto handily beat the right tackle around the edge, getting to the quarterback and spinning him to the ground, the ball popping out as he did so. Jones beat the Bills’ running back to the ball, picking it up and returning it to the one-yard line before he was tagged down.

The two have provided fuel to the fire that lights the torches of those who want to run Chris Carter out of town. Jones, as an unpolished rookie, would presumably present the greater upside, but would So’oto offer more now if he were asked to play?

Jones was given a head start, playing the first three defensive possessions of the third quarter before So’oto finally replaced Carter at left outside linebacker. He was tested early on in the running game, and he held serve here by holding the point and helping to direct the running back around the back side for no gain.

He was not as successful on every run in his direction, however. Here, on the first play of the fourth quarter, he was handled by the tight end, driven back and to the left (a shameless Seinfeld reference), only getting back into the play to tackle the running back 10 yards down the field.

So’oto did show well dropping into coverage a bit later on the same drive, staying on top of Bryce Brown and breaking onto the ball as soon as it’s thrown. He’s there to tackle the catch immediately for a modest gain of four yards on second and 10, which is a result you take.

Then, of course, there was this. We’ve already taken a look at this specific play a number of times, but there’s no doubt that it’s currently the highlight of his résumé, and could certainly catapult him to the 53-man roster, if not the practice squad.

The question is, does he make it? Carter is the veteran, which the coaching staff tends to prefer. He knows the system, even if he rarely makes much of a splash executing it. Jones is the exciting rookie undrafted free agent who has impressed in practices at times, and has three fumble recoveries in two preseason games.

But So’oto is the one that has been delivering results. He’s just a journeyman trying to catch on with his sixth different team in four years. Is this the year? It could come down to special teams in the end, as it so often does.

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

    I am tired of the cliché Carter phrase, “he knows the system” which I have admittedly used in the past myself. But no more, why does it matter that he knows the system when he doesn’t produce year after year.

    Im done with it, So’oto has shown more since joining the Team this offseason then Carter ever has, oh wait, Carter had a solid game last year in the final (4th) preseason game going against CAR 3rd stringers most of whom will never play a down in the NFL… so there’s that

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I agree. This is Carter’s last year here anyway. He will be a free agent after this year, I believe. I would be happy with either So’oto or Jones as his replacement. Moats is the backup OLB anyway, and So’oto or Jones should not have to play the position, although So’oto is definitely more ready to than Jones for this year anyway.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    If all goes well, these guys will not have to play at all. But if needed, Howard Jones would be manhandled and Carter has done nothing in years. So’Oto on the other hand, looks bulky enough to handle the run plays most of the time, and the big bonus is that he looks like he can provide pressure when called upon. He even moves pretty well for a big guy, turning the corner nicely. Vic for the 53, as he seems more ready.