Steelers Appear Set To Let Moats Start At ILB Against Ravens

Due to recent injuries suffered at the inside linebacker positions Monday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers now appear set to let outside linebacker Arthur Moats start alongside Vince Williams Sunday night when the team plays the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.

During his Thursday talk with the media, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler gave an indication that Moats will start against the Ravens instead of L.J. Fort, who took over Monday night after both Ryan Shazier and Tyler Matakevich left the game against the Cincinnati Bengals with injuries.

“If you’re a linebacker on this team you should know what everybody on the field is doing every defense,” Butler said of Moats, according to Will Graves of the Associated Press. “The reason he stayed around as long as he has is because he does know that.”

Moats, who has been an outside linebacker with the Steelers since signing with the team in 2014, played some inside linebacker during his first four years in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills. The James Madison product only started just 20 games during those four seasons, however.

As previously mentioned by me in a post, while Moats was indeed a very reliable tackler for the Bills as an inside linebacker, and especially during the 2013 season when he reportedly did not miss a tackle in the 177 run snaps that he was on the field for, it was quite obvious that he was only used as a two-down player and thus removed from the field quite a bit in obvious passing situations. When he was targeted by opposing offenses in the passing game during that 2013 season, Moats allowed 10 catches for 112 yards on 11 total targets. Keep in mind that that happened four seasons ago.

The Steelers signed former third round draft pick Sean Spence on Tuesday for depth purposes. While Spence has since said that the defense hasn’t changed much since he last played in Pittsburgh, it might still take him a while to get up to speed with things. He and Fort figure to have special teams roles Sunday night and it will be interesting to see if either wind up rotating in on defense as well.

Needless to say, it will be worth watching what happens Sunday night at the Steelers inside linebacker positions.

  • rystorm06

    Moats has always been a solid depth player, you need players like this to win a championship.

  • Kevin Reich

    Will Fort handle passing downs or Gay?

  • PghDSF

    I guess that Spence isn’t in football shape since he’s been out of football since October. I’d be surprised that Moates is the long term solution.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    So if Moats is in with VW, is Harrison going to be activated?

  • PghDSF

    With Dirty Red being out this week, I’d expect Deboo to get a helmet. However, I still don’t see him getting much playing time.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    Shazier was buck and vw was mack right? if Moats comes in you think positions stay the same or they switch?

  • PghDSF

    If they play Dime, then Gay and VW will probably be on the field.

  • PghDSF

    Shazier played mack. I would think Moates will replace as the mack.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    he’s a solid tackler

  • rystorm06

    Best tackler I seen since Joe Montana

  • Ichabod

    Any chance we go to a 4/3 defense?
    We do have quality on the D-line.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Welp….”The Standard is the Standard???”

    Sigh. Things just got unquestionably difficult. Man. Just…… man. Please let Moats be able to play well.

  • Talyn Scarbrough

    Joe Montana was a quarterback you idiot. Lol

  • rystorm06

    I said Joe Montegna!

  • Doug Andrews

    Moats is a solid LB not sure how he’ll handle being in coverage. I’ll assume the Steelers will take him off the filed on obvious passing downs. He’s got the size n smarts to get the job done in the run game imo.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    doubt it. we are meant for 3-4.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    I’m not worried with Moats out there. Knows the system.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    Have a feeling vw and Moats are going to have a big game. I’m thinking 2-3 sacks combined from them

  • The Tony

    Hey 50 bucks says that Gee Grenouille throws a touchdown first play

  • The Tony

    As an outside backer.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    With his best bud missing, I expect Vincenzo Williams is going to play like a man on a mission. He has already done well with his part time roll as I suspected he would. Time to step it up

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I’d expect even more shuffling of personnel next week. Without Shazier, Butler needs to figure out groupings that get all the best defenders on the field at once. I’d love to see Heyward, Tuitt, Watt, and Hargrave as the front four pushing the pocket on early downs.

  • ryan72384

    I think Spence becomes the guy eventually but Id rather have Moats out there any day over Red or Fort. You ever watch those 2 get consistently beat whenever they are on the field for those special goaline packages? They are terrible. Moats and Spence will rotate probably to try and fill the role. Either way with our only real playmaker on defense gone the season now comes down to what we all originally thought.. we are going to live and die by the offense.

  • stan

    Was Spence good in coverage when he was here last time? If so he and Moats could make a nice tandem.

  • Rob H

    Sigh.
    All I can figure is that Fort must not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, because he’s been with the team long enough to know the defense by now, and he’s the only one close to having the physical attributes to play the mack. It was bad enough when Matekavich went in ahead of him there, let alone a backup OLB playing there ahead of him.
    Wonder if they might try and work Watt in there more as they move along.

  • stan

    I doubt that he would have gotten out of football shape so quickly, or if the Steelers would have signed him if he did.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I think you need as many guys with the “knowledge” out there as possible. Not to mention, the ability to sniff out a play with only seconds to react. It’s asking a lot to expect Williams to direct the whole operation now that Shazier is out. I agree this likely doesn’t speak well of Fort’s instincts.

  • nutty32

    Fort was pointing, gesturing & scream stuff out pre-snap almost every play Monday night. Either he’s Mike Singletary or the most confused m’f’er out there.

  • Rob H

    Yea, that’s why I’m intrigued by the possibility of Watt playing there some as we move along. He’s already played inside occasionally, and not only has shown good ability and instincts in coverage, but also in when to break off that coverage and attack the line of scrimmage. The guy definitely has the ability to process and retain information better and quicker than any rookie I’ve ever seen.

  • Bradys_Dad

    Maybe Spence will spell Moats on special teams. Can’t ask the man to do everything while trying to fill Ryan’s cleats.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I’m cool with this. You gotta do what you gotta do!

  • John

    Memo to all of those is preseason who laughed at Moats being ILB depth and made the case to cut him in favor of younger players that cannot play. Moats is a professional in every sense of the word and that is what you want.

  • PA2AK_

    That medicinal stuff must be really potent…

  • Rocksolid20

    Moates is not the long term solution ,
    just the best we have at this time .

  • Rocksolid20

    As both !

  • StolenUpVotes

    Inspired play? A la Ray Seals in 95? Different positions, but dude was an animal that season

  • rystorm06

    I’m thinking the latter, they had to bring in Gay as a hybrid LB / safety to call the defense it seemed.

  • Obi Ryn Denobi

    LJ looked a little confused when he came in for Matakevich. Arthur gives them time and flexibility to get Sean up to speed. But depending on his conditioning, Spence should take over pretty quickly. They could even sub him in on passing downs, right away.

    And Sean gives them options after this year as well. Just another Steeler home again, like a bad penny!

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    I agree with you except he has had more than a part time role. Unless you mean part time as the lead MLB since Shazier’s injury?

  • Charles Haines

    I’d like to see Tuitt, Hargrave, Hayward and Deebo as D-line for a series or two.

  • Michael Martin

    Same.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    A couple of things to take from this.

    1. This says a lot about Fort and why Dirty Red has gotten the nod over him despite the difference in athleticism. Steelers appear to want guys (at least specifically in Shaziers role) who know the defense well and communicate so Fort must be having those Shemarko Thomas “has to be better above the neck” issues going on.

    2. I am not sure it is relevant that Moats is only a 2 down backer Daver. I think the Steelers are going to go with the Dime look they ran with William Gay and as I have said in other posts, I think Golden might take on some of that role as well if Mitchell is back in the starter role at safety. I have always thought Moats was slightly underrated around here anyway and will be just fine in his role if he does start and take the bulk of the snaps.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Gay or Golden are likely to be the guys. Give them a Dime look instead of leaving an LB in there who can’t cover. Both Golden and Gay are good enough tacklers to replace an LB and improve our coverage at the same time.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Red, Shazier, and JuJu will all be open spots right? And the only one taking one of those so far will be Spence. Other will be Hunter so I would guess the open spot goes to Harrison for sure.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Based on the article Moats will be replacing Shazier directly because he knows the defense and can get everyone organized. It appears they like letting Williams just play and smash people.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Moats shouldn’t concern you much. He is a good ball player and if he knows the defense enough there is no reason to think he can’t immediately have a modicum of success there. It isn’t rocket science.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    It’s time for James Harrison.

  • capehouse

    Terrible news. Moats is a statue.

  • Gyborg

    Might not have an ILB as quick as shazier in there now but at least we might be able to have two that are fairly fast and strong as opposed to the polar opposites of shazier and Timmons.

    VW has looked a bit lighter & sharper this year. He seems to be a great character, so here’s hoping he stands up in a big way for us now. I think he will

  • Jim Foles

    Dupree would be better speed wise

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Vince was not playing every snap as he does come off for certain packages. Obviously that may change now.

  • mhurk

    I like the move, Moats is solid, its a meaningless game, so as to not give the Pats any film, then slide Watt over to Buck and Release Deebo off the edge. Brady would never know what hit Him!

  • westcoasteeler

    Dig it deep, Arthur. Dig it deep.

  • Dan

    Not gonna profess to be any kind of LB expert here, but if Harrison can suit up, wouldn’t it be worth a look to start Deebo at ROLB and try Watt at ILB? He seems like he might do ok in that role.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    If we don’t use Deebo now, I don’t know why we have him at all. Put James Harrison in the game!

  • John

    Give them credit for trying. They obviously have no faith in Fort and Dirty Red looks like he is still developing. Maybe this will be like when Carnell Lake played corner.

  • Steel City Slim

    I said this was going to happen right after the Bungles game Monday Night. No surprise.

  • Carl Mendelius

    The Pats lost his best LB Hightower for the season early and they found another player on
    their bench. I hate the Pats but if we want to beat them we need to
    match what they do. For the Steelers is much more difficult to replace
    Shazier because they win only when their star players are playing, the
    Pats win only when their system is playing and doesnt matter which
    players are running it. Bottom line: In order to beat the Pats we need
    to beat their system but not with our stars but with another system and
    most teams dont realize this simple fact.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    He can’t replace Ryan, if he just plays sound football…The results may be great.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Get well soon Joe Haden. One pro bowl quality player can be dealt with. Two, no so much.