Tomlin Hints OLB Position Play Against Run Wasn’t Main Issue Against Bears

The Chicago Bears ran wild over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Soldier Field and a lot of their rushing yardage came via the outside zone stretch play. Because of that, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked during his Tuesday press conference if he thought his defense had any trouble setting the edge during Sunday’s game.

“You know, not consistently, but at times,” Tomlin said. “There’s going to be a hole or two from time to time, particularly when you’re as well-prepared as those guys, and they were. I tip my cap to Coach [John] Fox and those guys. They had a great plan. So, there’s going to be a big hole from time to time, usually those plays are minimized with good tackling. Those are the 6 to 8 to 11 yard gains that you might see in the running game from time to time.

“Really, our biggest issue is those instances, there were several of those instances we weren’t good tacklers. Those holes became field-flipping plays, 26-yard gains, 40-yard gains, and so forth. So it was a combination of us being a little bit more solid on the perimeter at times, good schematics by them, and when those two things occurred, we didn’t do a good job of tackling. And sometimes good open-grass tackling covers up a lot of things and there were some missed tackles on some of those breakout plays.”

Since Sunday’s game ended, Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, who played all of three defensive snaps against the Bears, was asked if he thinks he can still effectively set the edge against outside zone stretch plays.

“I could do that [set the edge] when I’m 60,” Harrison said, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Because of Harrison’s comments and combined with the fact he has a long history of playing well against the run and especially when it comes to outside zone plays, Tomlin was asked Tuesday if he gave any thought to using the veteran outside linebacker in that role Sunday against the Bears.

“I don’t know if it was specifically the outside linebacker position that was viewed as an issue in that football game and James speaks to the outside linebacker position,” Tomlin said. “Largely, we’ve got to do a better job of minimizing the run. I’m not singling out any position and I think a discussion about his participation, or non participation, does that and I don’t want to lead perception in any wild directions, man. Perception’s been led in enough wild directions in recent days, hasn’t it?”

In short, Tomlin made it sound like outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, who started at right outside linebacker against the Bears in place of the injured T.J. Watt, wasn’t the weak link on Sunday when it came to outside zone running plays to his side of the field. In my honest opinion, the all-22 tape backs this up. Was Chickillo perfect? Absolutely not, but it looked to me like most of the issues on outside zone runs to the right side of the Steelers defenses in Sunday’s game were mostly related to the play of the team’s inside linebackers, defensive backs and overall schematics.

Regardless of which player or players were at fault when it came to the Steelers defense failing to stop the Bears rushing attack on Sunday at Soldier Field, the problem needs to be fixed in a hurry.

  • Cartman54

    Maybe butlers defensive gameplan has something to do with it

  • Charles Haines

    Curious why they didn’t put 7 or 8 in the box for second half and force Glennon to beat them

  • nutty32

    Tomlin’s not going to call anyone out, but just look at that gap between Chick and Heyward. You’re asking Shazier to fly around and make a open field tackle v. a pretty good back in that size of a lane? Butler doesn’t move Mitchell up in the box and asking him to come flying up and make a tackle in that size of a lane? That’s insane. This defense asks Shazier to fly around full speed and make splash tackles – that’s not going to happen with that size of a lane. If you ask him to be like CJ Mosely and break down and make tackles 4 yards down field, that’s one thing, but come on. Squeezing down the lane by the OLB is 1000% easier than asking the ILB to make full speed hole fills and make an open grass tackle when he’s running full speed.

  • Jerry Anthony Carbo II

    The picture posted suggests otherwise. While those filling the gap share the blame, it sure looks like Chickillo has trouble establishing the edge in a reasonable position. He is way too far outside of the hash in this picture and as a result the gap he leaves is perhaps too wide for two defenders and definitely for one (thus assuring a positive run at a minimum and forcing a smaller defender to make a one-on-one tackle). At a minimum when he establishes the edge that far out, there is no way that he can contribute to bringing the ball carrier down (i.e. if the ILB or S slow the runner down). When I was watching the game live I noticed this issue on many of the runs. Might have been a bad game for Chickillo, might just be part of his development, but from what I saw he was less that stout against the run (still great to see his current level of development as a pass rusher).

  • SteelersDepot

    You should look at the all-22,

  • Steeldog22

    Shazier missed that tackle and others because he ran two gaps over from the gap he was supposed to fill (the full video and breakdown was in another post). Shazier misses a lot of splash plays and regular tackles because he is out of control, not making reads and playing his assignment. He could have not moved a bit off the snap and he would have been right there to tackle for no gain. That’s why the cutbacks killed us all day – and not just Shazier.

  • 太阳三联

    Those outside zone plays are really effective when you can hold people on the edge for no penalty. 😂😂

  • francesco

    Because that would make Butler look like Einstein!

  • francesco

    This team is disfunctional.
    Jekyll and Hyde between home and away

  • nutty32

    Excellent correction. But still would like to see the full game breakdown, play side and cut back. What I described was pretty much happening all day based on 1st run + replays TV watching. The overlords indicated that a full run D break down was coming & I for one eagerly anticipate it.

  • razaard2

    I’ve seen this movie too many time to blame the new guy around Chickillo for anything. The team plays really bad against bad competition. Repeatedly. For years. Coaches need to blamed for that. It costs home field advantage in the PO.
    Chickillo was bad against the run? Yes. Was it why we got gashed? No, there were 100 other reasons. Deebo would fix it all? No. Does it make sense that he didn’t play most of the snaps late? No, he should have had.
    Anyways, the D shut out the bears for the second half and the offense couldn’t beat that 10 deficit built on St mistakes. The D is hardly the only one to blame for this game

  • NinjaMountie

    When a team throws down 200+ yards rushing it’s hard to find anyone who did their job well. However, My perception, when watching the game live, was that the players responsible for filling the gaps were slow, late, or just not there and they missed the tackle when they were. Still, 200+ yards means nobody was good.

  • Paul Rainey

    Dumbo can’t know if Deebo could have solved the problem, he didn’t try that solution. As I’ve said you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know or believe you have one. Out doached by a guy who has been fired twice, great job Mike.

  • Randy

    Year after year my friend. Seems like Mr. Rooney don’t care at all

  • nikki stephens

    I am adding and re-posting because the controversy on JH use is in both stories from SD.
    Mike wants to say, “So, there’s going to be a big hole from time to time, usually those plays are minimized with good tackling. Those are the 6 to 8 to 11 yard gains that you might see in the running game from time to time”
    Well yeah coach T, if maybe you had a guy stop just 1/2 the runs on that side that forced the team to kick – you wouldn’t have lost. Because there sure were alot of those 6,8,11 yard runs!

    This guy keeps digging and digging a hole. Mike T no person, no one over the 100’s of posts did I see someone claim 1 person would end the gashing. What we know is James Harrison’s legacy of work demonstrates a player who shut down many of the runs that gashed the ROLB position. We have seen with our own eyes a player for over a decade is as sure a tackler as there is and maintains supreme gap integrity. We, the fans also know you recognized that last year and swapped Jarvis Jones for Harrison after E Elliott embarrassed the D last year.

    So the question is why do you think the answer last year is any different than this year? And I am scared your such a stubborn ass that you purposely won’t put JH in at this point because your afraid that so many of may be proven right…… (I hope that accusation isn’t true, because then we have greater problems than any of us thought before the Chicago game)

  • Steeldog22

    And I agree with you on that. There were plenty of time our D line and linebackers went one way with the first movement – and just kept on going despite the cutback. Sometimes Chick was OK and sometimes he was poor. The only difference being a hole you could drive a truck through vs a hole you could drive a semi-truck through. Either way, not a good result.

  • nutty32

    I will continue to say that Chick should be squeezing the lane down more when the play starts to the other side. He’s pretty much dancing with the TE blocking him well out of the play even w/o the cut back, there’s no reason he should be pushed out so far away from the box with the ball going the other way. But, you’re right Shazier over-played the first hole before the cut back and it looked like Cam was going to cover that 1st hole.

  • Jaybird

    There had to be at least a half dozen plays where there was around 7-9 yards between Chick and the D end. I’m really confused – were these guys not lined up properly ? Becuase I can’t see one player like Mitchell or Shaz being responsible for that much turf. And what the frig was Artie Burns doing out there? I swear one one of those big runs it seemed that Artie tried to tackle Chickillo instead of the RB!

  • Michael Martin

    The bears were bear hugging on those outside zone runs. Refs just sucked.

  • MC

    Butler should of borrowed a page from Lebeau. Priority number one – stop the run, make them beat you in the air. Not stacking the box with enough players after being repeatedly slashed is just stubbornly stupid.

  • Mark

    Bogus, the OLB’s turn the C gap into the D, E, and F gap. I could hit those holes on cut back runs. In addition, Shazier or Williams,should’ve came through the C gap forcing the RB into either Chick or Bud.

  • Applebite

    Actually, I think you guys are reading too much into this.
    It was the lackluster officiating. And if just 5% of the many missed/ no calls were made, the Steelers are walking out of there 3-0. The Bears offense got away with murder. That game doesn’t happen in New England. No way in a million times. I don’t even think that game happens in San Diego. The Bears offense looked like a bunch of random wrestlers from Mid-South Wrestling, with rear naked choke holds, face masks, and there is one particular play where Chickillo was on a stunt to the inside, he got horse collared and tripped by the tackle. That officiating crew should be suspended for such a poorly called game. And I know as well as anyone that you can’t depend on the refs, especially on the road. But not even pulling out your flag for the most obvious signs of foul play is inexcusable. Benny Hill couldn’t have written a better script…

  • Steeler-Drew

    Can’t help but think there is some kind of personal issue going between JH and Tomlin. He has to know Harrison would have done much better against the run than Chickillo. If Chickillo has another subpar game and JH is not inserted I will be convinced it’s something personal.

  • Bo Spring

    Piss poor tackling all day and both ILB hitting the wrong holes. I say this every week about Shazier, he comes in too fast and out of control causing him to miss numerous tackles in the backfield. Getting there and not doing a damned thing is just that, NOTHING.

  • #beatthepats

    Spot on! That bs 2 defensive line dime defensive gets mauled up front in a 6 on 4 matchup, then shazier and 190 lb defesive backs get blamed for “gap integrity” bultler needs to be fired asap, its should have been after the patriot disaster.