Steelers vs Eagles Film Review: Ryan Shazier

Rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier had an impressive debut in week two of the preseason in a performance that raised already high expectations for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round draft pick.

Last week’s test against the Philadelphia Eagles saw Shazier come back down to earth a bit, though he did say after the game that stamina became an issue later in the game as he continues to restabilize his fitness level after missing almost two weeks of practice with a knee bruise.

The Eagles’ offense did not allow for the knifing tackles that he had all over the field a week earlier, most often working on the perimeter. When they did attack inside, Shazier had issues getting off blocks.

The more athletic and aggressive tight ends also posed a problem for the rookie in comparison to his debut performance. But I also became aware of Shazier more frequently being told what to do and where to go pre-snap last week, perhaps as a side effect of the Eagles’ fast-paced approach combined with his inexperience.

With that said, here is a look at some of the key plays of Shazier’s night against Nick Foles and the Eagles.

On this carry early in the game, Shazier was shadowing running back LeSean McCoy, as he frequently did throughout the game. As he moved to intercept the running, the pulling center Jason Kelce was able to get in front of the linebacker, and McCoy was able to step through his tackle attempt for a big gain.

Early in the second quarter, Shazier was covering the athletic Zach Ertz on a third and eight play. Shazier failed to anticipate that the tight end would be playing the sticks, so as Ertz stopped and turned at the first-down marker, he was able to create separation and make the reception for 12 yards.

In the third quarter, facing the Eagles’ second-string offense, Shazier continued to fulfill his primary assignments, which consisted of covering tight ends and shadowing running backs.

He drew running back Matthew Tucker on this play, and he did an excellent job of playing off his man, reading his body to anticipate the throw. What ensued was a collision at the intersection of man and ball, and the end result was an incompletion. As a matter of fact, he nearly held on to the ball for an interception.

The last series for the first-team defense was nearly a short one, were it not for Shazier getting beat for a 25-yard reception on third and four. But when you look at the play, it’s difficult to fault him too much.

Tight end Trey Burton and quarterback Mark Sanchez played their parts on this play nearly perfectly. The ball was well-placed between the linebacker and Cortez Allen, and even though Shazier turned around to play the ball, he could not reach the pass with his outstretched hand.

Shazier followed up that disheartening play by missing his second tackle of the night on the next snap as the receiver got a modest stiff arm on him. The game was capped off at the end of that drive with Tucker pounding through Shazier for the Eagles’ fourth touchdown.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • SteelersDepot

    Sorry, gifs now added

  • steeltown

    His first game action was so stellar that I think some nearly forgot he’s still a rookie and will still have rookie moments. He played well, but I agree he was overwhelmed by PHI fast paced attack and misdirection

  • Jason

    Thankfully he has the rare speed at LB that a lot of the mistakes he makes aren’t as glaring as they would be if he was a 4.6 guy.

  • srdan

    What is concerning is that we continue to play with two down linemen and our linebackers can’t get off blocks. Thats like shooting fish in a barrel.

  • PA2AK

    Agree…you can still tell he’s going to be a very special player. I’m sure we will see some exploitation of his inexperience, but he seems to learn quickly. I think we’ll see more positive than negative. Glad they gave him the task of covering McCoy when he was in there. A good test.

  • PA2AK

    Not sure why we can’t move to a 3-3-5 in those situations. Timmons – Shazier – Worilds; Heyward – McLendon – Tuitt. Even if they put Worilds’ hand in the dirt on occasion to bring in JJ. Why not use the benefits of a more athletic nose in McLendon and lightning fast LB in Shazier more effectively? With Thomas and Keisel….I would think that gives you a decent shot at a rotation when needed. And if you can’t sub…at least you have a shot at actually stopping a drive.

  • Steelers12328882

    Hard to knock a rookie for having a bad game, but you can’t get stiff armed by a 6ft 180lb WR.

  • Steelers12328882

    Exactly what I was thinking. I used it all the time in Madden’s lol.

  • Jeff

    I remember watching the game, and in the 2nd GIF, the Tight End got away with an ever so slight nudge to get a little separation.