The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Ryan Shazier
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 3 Years
The 2016 season for Ryan Shazier was in many ways a retread with where we have already been with him before. We had the injuries and the missed games. We had the impressive speed and play-making ability. We had the missed tackles and the failure to shed blocks. We had turnovers and shirtless winters.
But it was the balance struck between what we got that was different this year. We got less injuries (a little bit, anyway) and more splash plays. We still got the missed tackles, but a large number of them were of the penetrating variety that opened up the play to lead others to the tackle.
The tangible difference between his 2016 season and his first two years was rewarded in his first nomination to the Pro Bowl, although he was an alternate. It was a deserving honor, and yet still a surprising one when you consider that he still missed three games and parts of others.
It’s been the same story every year, and frankly, it will continue to be the same story every year until things change, but he needs to get things figured out about how to protect himself better when he is on the field and to proactively work to prevent injuries. He has missed too many games in his first three seasons.
On the bright side, his partner in crime, Lawrence Timmons, had a similar, though less dramatic, reputation pertaining to injuries during his first three seasons, but has not missed a game since. So there is always hope.
Part of the reason that the missed games sting so much is because he is becoming such a dynamic presence on the field. He blows up plays in the backfield. He gets sacks. He gets interceptions. He forces fumbles. He had nine pass deflections last year, an underrated statistic and an impressive number for a linebacker.
The future is bright for Shazier and his arrow is still pointing up. There is little I think for him to improve upon on the field when he is at his best, so I believe it is mostly just a matter of ensuring that he is on the field as much as he can be, and to be there not compromised by injuries.