Steelers Film Room: Javon Hargrave Shows Pass-Rush Spark

We all knew that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave has been playing well these past two weeks since his playing time has increased due to injury ahead of him in the pecking order. He has recorded a sack in each of the past two games. but after watching him against the Colts—who admittedly don’t have a good offensive line, particularly up the middle—he shows some serious pass-rushing assets.

Not that he is all pass rush. In fact, he made one of the first plays of the game—after a sack for a loss of 10 yards on first down—to get the defense off the field in a hurry. Because of the sack, the Colts were already looking at third and 20, but Hargrave, once he swum over the left guard, who let him go in order to block for a screen, immediately broke off his rush to chase down the running back before the pass was even thrown. He twisted the back down for a loss of five yards. And I should probably point out that screens have killed the Steelers at times this year.

The Colts got off an extended drive the next time around, though it ended in a missed field goal. The Steelers had a chance to get off the field on the Colts’ side, facing a third and eight, and Hargrave almost made it happen. He bull rushed through the center and got a hit on the quarterback, but he was still able to complete a pass for 18 yards.

Late in the first half, with the ball near midfield, on second and 10, the rookie lined up in the 3-4 as a zero-tech, but off the snap, used exceptional hand usage and speed to penetrate the right-side A gap, forcing pressure that forced an incompletion. He had another play very similar to this, only there was a running back to pick him up, though his penetration allowed a linebacker to get pressure instead.

A roughing the passer on the previous play gave the Colts a new set of downs, so Hargrave helped the next series of plays get off to a bad start. Aligned as a slanted nose, he showed excellent awareness to navigate through a backside cut block to get in on a tackle for a loss of one.

On Indianapolis’ second offensive play of the second half, the rookie made another play against the run, this time setting up in the left-side B gap. The left tackle drove him down the field as he stayed with the runner and made the tackle after three yards, since he maintained inside leverage.

It was a few plays later, on second and long, that Hargrave picked up his sack. Here he set up as a five-tech on the left tackle’s outside shoulder, but quickly kicked inside and swam over the left guard’s inside shoulder. With the center picking him up, the rookie ripped the center’s arm up and penetrated the double block, showing off his speed and agility in making a diving tackle to bring the quarterback down.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Jacob

    Wow, what a game by Hargrave. I know he was up against inferior competition but it looks like a bright future ahead. Defenses will have to account for him.

  • Sam Scalleat

    It almost looks like Tuitt gave him a push to help him through the block on that sack. A good game by Hargrave. The Steelers need him to continue playing at this level with Heyward out.


    I think we have now seen enough to know that Hargrave not a typical 3-4 NT even though he can handle a double. imo that’s taking away from his strengths as a penetrating, attacking DL.

    It probably won’t happen, but I contend If they can’t find a legit edge OLB next yr, they should move Heyward to DE, and play Tuitt and Hargrave at DT with Dupree on the other DE, with Chickillo as the rotation guy on both sides at DE.

    If Timmons can’t be re-signed as a MLB, Williams moves to the role, with Shazier and Fenney (insert another speedy guy here if you like) as the OLBs.

  • FATCAT716

    He is a beast waiting to happen

  • Crowned


  • srdan

    I think interior pressure has become paramount in this league. QBs have gotten really good at just stepping up in the pocket. It’s a pretty big reason why our OLBs have been struggling for a few years.

  • Xclewsive

    Hargrave improvement can at least minimize the huge loss of Heyward.

  • srdan

    From what I have read, the interior of that Giants line isn’t much better.

  • falconsaftey43

    It’s a really interesting idea in that it gets your best players on the field, but I don’t know how well it works. It’s essentially what Jets are doing this year. Richardson, Wilkerson, Williams are all 34 DE or 43 DT type of players. But they’ve moved Richardson to DE in a 43 look. They’re all 3 really good players and good pass rushers from their normal positions, but it just hasn’t been working all that well. Stops the run well, but the pass rush isn’t there.


    Yeah…a 34DE/43 DT are pretty interchangeable imo, Heyward as a 43DE would be the big change…..Both Dupree and Chick played some DE in college…maybe Heyward stayyward stay inside Hargrave becomes the swing DT.

    Speaking of the Jets…still at least a solid DEF without that fast twitch guy on the edge…their OFC really went down the tubes.

    I know that won’t happen, but we’ll see what the draft brings…goes w/o saying I guess, but this squad really needs to address the edge rusher.

  • Michael James

    Well I don’t think that’s the only reason our OLBs have been struggling for years. We just don’t have the talent there. Guys like Von Miller, Mack or Houston don’t care if the QB knows how to step up in the pocket. They are delivering 15+ sacks every season when they’re healthy.

  • RickM

    Just fantastic stuff from a rookie D-lineman on our squad. It looks like we absolutely nailed our 3rd-round pick.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Weston Richburg is solid at center. Justin Pugh might be back at left guard, and he’s probably their best lineman. John Jerry is probably replacement level. Honestly, I think their tackles are worse. Of course, if Gettis is still playing for Pugh, that would be an obvious opportunity.

  • VaDave

    I like this kid. Just think what next year is going to be like after 6 months of weight training getting him stronger up top. Coach Mitchell has done wonders for him. Now it’s up to Coach G to beef him up a bit. The trio of Heyward, Tuitt, and Hargrave should be the best 3/4 line we’ve had since the Smith, Hampton, Olhoffen days.