Film Room: Alejandro Villanueva Does Battle With Carl Nassib


The Pittsburgh Steelers may not have managed to work out a new long-term contract with every one of their pending free agent targets—Le’Veon Bell would be the omission, though they reportedly were also interested in signing up Chris Boswell—they did manage to ink Antonio Brown, Stephon Tuitt, and Alejandro Villanueva to new extensions. Those were pretty big deals, literally.

I think Brown showed on Sunday why his was the highest priority, but Villanueva’s key left tackle position also finds him in the spotlight, so I wanted to take a look at his first snaps as an undisputed full-time starter against the Browns.

One play to note is the first of their second drive. Here Villanueva was slow to his kick slide as defensive end Carl Nassib dashed up the arc. With Ben Roethlisberger’s five-step drop, the rusher came quite close to putting pressure on the quarterback here. It still resulted in an incompletion.

He did a much better job of stoning newly-re-signed second-year end Tyrone Holmes early in the second quarter, using his sheer size to keep him at a distance. But this is a player who is only on the roster because of the injury to Myles Garrett.


So here’s another look at him versus Nassib, late in the first half. On second and eight, from their own 11-yard line, the third-year tackle was not able to use his reach to his advantage, but his pure power stifled the rusher and made easy work of him on what ended up going down as a 50-yard gain.

The drive ended fittingly with a touchdown, and Villanueva was again well-positioned to match Nassib. Knowing that he had inside help from Ramon Foster, he focused his attention on a possible dip outside, which proved unnecessary.

But he did give up the Steelers’ lone sack of the game, and it was Nassib who got it. On the second play of the third quarter, the second-year lineman used a rip move to get up the arc, putting Villanueva off-balance. That enabled him to about-turn upfield as Roethlisberger moved to his left.

The two players had a number of good battles over the day, summed up well by another skirmish midway through the quarter. The two both worked a one-arm rush-and-shiver against one another. As Nassib slowly started to win, Villanueva regathered and punched with his free hand to re-establish leverage as Roethlisberger flushed to his right to complete the pass for 10 yards.

While I would not say that he has picked up right where he left off last season, I think Villanueva handled himself well against Nassib, but he will have to be in mid-season form by the time that Garrett returns.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Peter MacDonald

    Yer gifs are arfed up. One missing one duplicate before I scolled down to let you know. Cheers, thanks for the great work!

  • john bennett

    Garrett has yet to play an NFL snap and AV needs to step up to be ready for him? Not sure how that thought process works. I would love to see AV dominate on every play, but I think we all know that is an impossible dream.

  • blue

    AV is always the one letting up the pressure by either not moving his feet quick enough outside or getting bull rushed into the backfield, he has no anchor or punch…finally opened ya eyes.

  • LucasY59

    surprisingly AV seems to struggle more with taller/longer pass rushers, maybe they are able to make his size advantage less effective?

    practicing against Harrison seems to have helped with the shorter guys, they dont seem to be able to get under him and negate his length/leverage

  • NinjaMountie

    Boy…you read a totally different article than what was written.

  • NinjaMountie

    “…but he will have to be in mid-season form by the time that Garrett returns.”

    I think there is a good chance he’ll be in mid-season form when he faces Garrett, Matthew. Mainly because he will not face him until the end of the season. 🙂

  • AndyR34

    Some people like to posit expertise that they don’t really have.

  • PaeperCup

    does that mean he has to revert from late season form?

  • nutty32

    Villy has me worried. Hasn’t looked great all preseason either, semi-consistently getting beat outside. Would like to think he made up for it in the run game, but we got stuffed on the ground too as a unit.

  • NinjaMountie

    I think he can handle Garrett in quarter 1/3 season form.

  • Axe Skot

    Every player has to adjust after putting up a season’s worth of tape. Everyone studies each other’s tendencies, and the league knows who he is now. The guy works hard and studies hard. I have no reason to believe that he’ll be a weak link on this line. He’ll continue to work, adapt, and adjust his game.

  • barry foster

    AV has his work cut out for him next week vs Everson Griffen.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that Garrett is better than Carl Nassib, sure.

  • NinjaMountie

    That’s not going out on a limb! Everyone thinks that. I’m really going to go out on a limb! You ready for this…………..dun dun daaaaaaa
    Garrett will be a bust.

  • blue

    Girl…you need to watch the game closely.