Film Room: Chris Hubbard Boosting Future Earnings

Let me just put it this way: Chris Hubbard is going to be a starting right tackle, or maybe even guard, for some team next season, and the only way it’s going to be the Pittsburgh Steelers is if something happens to Marcus Gilbert prior to free agency.

Considering the general dearth of talent along the offensive line coming out of college these days, especially out of the tackle position, there is going to be a team in need of a tackle who is going to pay Hubbard enough to start rather than returning to Pittsburgh to be a backup.

Having strong performances in primetime against teams with a good pass rush will only improve his stock, and that is what he did against the Ravens. Take, for example, this late first-quarter rep in pass protection.

The right guard catches Carl Davis off-guard with an aggressive punch in pass protection, which contributes to the lineman losing his footing trying to come off the edge. The more reps he’s gotten, the more comfortable he’s become taking a more proactive approach in pass protection, though it at times has left him open for an inside counter.

It was Davis again feeling the brunt of his more aggressive style of play he has exhibited in recent weeks, though this time it came in a goal-line situation. Hubbard won the initial point of attack and was able to get the lineman turned, and eventually even on the ground.

Still later in the quarter, with time running out, his pass protection against Terrell Suggs helped Ben Roethlisberger convert a third and 15 to Eli Rogers. While the right tackle gave ground, he kept his feet chopping and his arms in control of the rusher’s base until deep into the play.

A play or two later is an example of what I alluded to earlier: susceptibility to an inside move. But Hubbard has also been able to recover well, as he does here, riding rookie Tyus Bowser through the pocket and out of harm’s way.

He had a greeting as well for the Raven’s other rookie edge rusher, Tim Williams, who once setting his feet upfield trying to hold the edge against the run was instead driven upfield, only managing to spin away to fall to the ground.

Bowser did get a sack on Roethlisberger against Hubbard, but it was the quarterback at fault, being taken down about five seconds into the play, on first down no less. Suggs also got free on an inside counter that, in conjunction with a defensive back blitz, led to the sack that opened the game-winning drive, but multiple failures led to that result.

About the Author

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

    Is there any chance at all they sign Hubbard and release Gilbert?

    Between his suspension & injuries it’s not been a good season for Gilbert. What would salary cap implications be?

  • steelburg

    Man Hubbard has really looked good. He reminds me of Beachum

  • Sam Clonch

    Hope he gets a big fat contract, and it nets us a nice comp pick!

  • Steeldog22

    Good for him. Timing was right and he’s stepped up. Been a nonconversation all year. Can’t ask for more.

  • Bradys_Dad

    Or maybe, and this is going to get me heckled to no end, they start Hubbard and Gilbert becomes the next man up? I realize that Gilbert is a lot of $ to ride the pine but O line guards are always going down and Gilbert, like Hubbard, has some degree of versatility. It may be a bit far-fetched but maybe it should garner consideration.

  • NickSteelerFan

    Matthew, who would you like to see as the starting RT for the next few years, Gilbert or Hubbard?

  • steelburg

    Where else has Gilbert proven he could play? If your going to keep a guy based of versatility Gilbert probably wouldn’t be the right guy to keep.

  • Kevin artis

    Gilbert might have been hurt a little but suspension I believe was trying to get back on the field by taking something that he should of known was illegal.

    But when he’s healthy, he is ions better that Hubbard.
    We appreciate Hubbard’s efforts but we can’t keep everyone when they develop into starters.
    I hope we get a high comp pick for his efforts.

  • Bradys_Dad

    Gilbert has played both L & R, not in regular season games but during practices and during a pre-season. But I respect your opinion.

  • Steeler Nation!

    “when healthy”. That’s not much this year. And with this 4 game suspension in the books, won’t his next failed test be for a year? I can’t remember the length of his contract, and the injury issues and failed tests may never come up again. But it might be worth keeping an eye on Hubbard’s development the rest of the way. The Steelers have made some great decisions over the years by the letting the older and higher priced option walk away and keeping the younger option.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Well, based on pure talent, Gilbert is the obvious answer. Taking into consideration availability and age, Hubbard becomes a lot more desirable. I like Hubbard (obviously), but Gilbert is still the better player between the two, and until that changes I would probably roll the dice. It would make things a lot easier if Hawkins develops into a solid backup.