Steelers Film Room: Ryan Shazier Vs Colts

Pittsburgh Steelers second-year inside linebacker Ryan Shazier bounce back quickly from what looked like a relatively severe concussion out in Seattle the week before to start for the team on Sunday night against the Colts, playing 45 of 58 defensive snaps, so I was particularly interested to see how he played.

As you might expect, it was a bit of a mixed bag, making a couple of plays but also giving some up. Officially, he posted a stat line of six tackles, including four solo, which is tied for the second-fewest tackles in a full game this year, the lowest being four in the game against the Chiefs when he returned from his shoulder injury.

Shazier was blown out of the hole and put on his back by the center on the first play of the game, admittedly not the greatest start, but the defense held, recording an interception on third and nine two plays later.

He started the Colts’ second offensive drive little better, unfortunately, this time getting turned by the right guard and missing on the runner, though at least on this play he kept his feet, even if the run picked up nine yards.

A play later, however, he showed discipline and vision working through the wash of bodies to get to the ball as he helped wrap up the ball carrier with a group of defenders, putting him down for a loss of three yards.

The rest of the first half was fairly quiet for Shazier, which included an extended drive on which he was subbed out. He spent most of his time dropping into coverage without being tested, and so there was little to report.

But it didn’t take long into the second half before he would get on the stat sheet, actually doing well to stay clean from the moving left tackle and eluding the guard engaged with the defensive end in order to get an arm on Frank Gore’s ankle, tripping him up after a gain of three yards.

Midway through the quarter, however, he was responsible for a key missed tackle that helped lead to a 34-yard gain by Gore on a drive that admittedly ended on a turnover on downs. Shazier dropped into coverage and broke on the back after receiving the check down, but after getting by the pulling lineman, could not make a clean attempt on Gore, which would have held him for no gain.

Later on the drive, on third and eight, he set up off the edge as though to rush, but dropped into a hook zone. After the middle of the field opened up, Shazier came from a distance to get in on the tackle after a seven-yard gain, forcing the fourth down that ended the drive a play later.

Past the midway point of the fourth quarter, Shazier stayed with the tight end running a corner route as the ball went to the back who was further upfield. The linebacker was able to stay clean of the tight end, helping to make the tackle.

Toward the end, on a second-and-17 play, he may have had his best play of the night rushing through the B gap, manhandling the back in pass protection and getting a hit on the quarterback to force him to chuck the ball away.

He certainly did not look up to full capacity, especially early on in the game, but Shazier did manage to make a couple of plays just a game after being concussed. He will have a tougher task ahead of him against the Bengals, however.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • RickM

    Overall that’s a pretty disappointing overview. He gets a clear path and overpowers a RB on the last play, but that extra muscle doesn’t seem to have helped him against linemen. There was that one game where he knifed through the O-Line time and again against San Fran and I thought ‘wow, what have we got here’. But there hasn’t been much to get excited about since then. Kind of worried about him versus Cincinnati’s run game based on the above clips.

  • Kelly A

    He’ll come alive vs the Bengals. Frankly speaking, the Steelers are going to win their game Sunday with a collective effort from the entire defense; whether Shazier gets individual stats doesn’t concern me much.

  • 6 ring circus

    Don’t me get wrong – I like Shazier and his potential, but the individual parts do make up the whole. I wouldn’t mind seeing VW get some of his snaps. Especially in run support. That guy brings the wood with him. Shazier, not so much!

  • Garrett Hunt

    I don’t really blame him for the missed tackle on Gore with the guard pulling out. That was an easy cut for Gore that any back should be able to make on anybody with that angle he was coming in at.

  • Zarbor

    I’m worried about Shadier long-term as many of us are. We know when healthy he can be great but that’s the issue. I did not like his tackling in this game at all. He seemed to be arm tackling and that’s not going to work since he is not big or strong enough.
    Hoping he is healthier this coming game and stop the missed tackles. We can’t be giving these jokers second and third chances to keep moving the ball. The defense did a great job last time but we will need even a better showing this time.

  • Ma Masing

    looks like a rough game but i still dont think he is a bust. Hes had a few games this year that show he can be a great ILB but biggest thing is that he stays healthy so he can get into playing rhythm

  • PittsburghSports

    He’s really just a one-dimensional player. He can run and tackle, chase down plays, and shoot gaps against the run and pass. Offensive lineman overwhelm him with ease though. He can’t cover either. Even with all that speed, he gets himself out of position constantly by taking false steps and just generally not being aware of his position as it relates to the play developing, as you can see with the RB screen where he missed the tackle on Gore. The saving grace is that his athleticism is so great, that if his head ever catches up, he’ll be an outstanding player. We’re just not seeing it right now, and if he’s not shooting gaps or chasing down plays, he’s a liability more than not.

  • RickM

    i just don’t have the same confidence that he can be great when healthy. Matthew didn’t show it, but he mentions that Ryan was blown up on the first play by the center and put on his back; and then he was controlled and pushed back by the right guard on the 2nd play. I’m not sure he’s strong enough to be a star.

    I agree that the D will have their hands full on Cincinnati’s home turf. This is going to be a real test for the team as a whole. If we are going to lose, please don’t make it another game that we likely should have won. I can’t take another really tough loss. Here’s hoping we come up with the critical ‘W’.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Spot on evaluation in my opinion. He is very easily washed out and for all of the crap Vince Williams takes about coverage skills Shazier actually looks as bad or worse. Speed just helps him make up for it easier. As you say though, the upside is incredible if his mind ever catches up to his body.

    I think I would prefer he sacrifice a bit of speed to gain more strength when taking on defenders if it is possible with his frame. I still have fairly high hopes for him regardless. Been a rough first 2 years but let’s see what years 3 and 4 hold.