File this under “good problems to have” even if, yes, it’s still a struggling group, but the Pittsburgh Steelers’ have too many outside linebackers to play. Mike Tomlin was very blunt about that at today’s weekly presser, saying they will not have a five man rotation.
Five men enter. Four men play.
“A five man rotation is more difficult and less fluid. I’m really not into five man rotations. I expressed that to the group last week. As Bud gets up to speed, somebody’s going to win, somebody’s going to lose. I don’t care who wins. I think we all win if we play the hot hand. Those are our intentions.”
Two of those spots are already locked up.
“If you look at it right now, James is probably going to be in that mix. He’s been the hot hand of late. He leads the group and leads us in sacks. Other than that, I imagine Bud is going to be part of the group because we’re excited about what he could potentially bring us that we haven’t seen now that he has his health.”
So that’s two of the four roses given to James Harrison and Bud Dupree. The other two will have to be earned the rest of the way by the trio of Jarvis Jones, Anthony Chickillo, and Arthur Moats. Tomlin was again very clear about that.
“The other guys is going to be based on performance. And I think that’s fair.”
Perhaps it’ll change on a week-to-week basis to increase the level of competition in the locker room. But it’s probably fair to assume and assess that Moats is the favorite to be the odd-man out. Chickillo has been the better pass rusher, which would already give the Stelers two LOLBs. No room for Moats.
Of course, Moats does have flexibility and has played both sides, but he’s been glued to the left side throughout most of the season. It’s unlikely he’ll end up jumping Jarvis Jones. We’ve already seen Moats get shuttled to the bench before, sitting at the end of the 2014 season when the outside linebacker group got healthy again.