Many things in life I'm honest enough to admit I just don’t understand. Like why do drivers from Ohio refuse to get out of the left-hand lane, even though they're driving the speed limit and holding up traffic? If you don’t understand what I'm referring to, you're probably from Ohio and part of the problem.
I also often wonder why Coach Tomlin is always looking up at the scoreboard every time the camera zooms over to him standing on the sidelines. What could he be thinking, or looking for? Maybe some divine intervention? He definitely didn’t find any answers Thursday night in Week 2 of the preseason.
I don’t know if any of our BTSC readers ever watch Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but the game-show offers contestants lifelines to help them answer the questions. One of these lifelines is an opportunity to poll the audience. The studio audience votes on four possible multiple-choice answers, trying to help the contestant pick the correct one.
I just finished watching the DVR replay of the Steelers' preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers, and the game left me with plenty more questions than answers. But I saw something early in the third quarter that really got me wondering. There was Bud Dupree, big as life, lined up at inside linebacker, and not just for coverage purposes either! He read the play post-snap and then rushed the passer through the guard-center gap. I just about fell out of my chair. Then, after picking up a sack from his normal outside linebacker position, he was back at it, rushing the quarterback from the middle of the field. He was stood up by the running back on one play, but he did help flush the QB out of the pocket. It appeared they were using him similar to the way they utilize Vince Williams.
Which leads me to the question I'd like to pose to our knowledgeable, BTSC community. Please explain to me why it's such a crazy idea to move an edge player to an inside linebacker position, if they appear to have the athleticism and skill set required to pull it off? I'm sure I'm not the only one who wondered aloud why the Steelers didn’t give Dupree, or Watt for that matter, a shot at replacing Shazier last season, instead of turning to an undersized, journeyman player fresh off of the couch. I really don’t see how they could have done any worse.
I realize you don’t want to weaken two positions trying to strengthen one, but remember we were much deeper at outside linebacker than inside linebacker last season, even before Shazier went down. We still had James Harrison at the time, along with Chickillo and Moats. I can’t help but believe that Deebo’s strength and ability to set the edge wouldn’t have been a great asset for the run-defense, not even mentioning his pass-rushing acumen.
The Steelers have made a concerted effort this offseason to obtain players possessing positional flexibility. Players such as Morgan Burnett, Terrell Edmunds, and Marcus Allen are viewed as linebacker/safety hybrids. Cameron Sutton, Mike Hilton and Sean Davis can play both cornerback and safety. They're all position-versatile. Why can’t a linebacker do the same?
I recall former Steeler great Chad Brown played the first three seasons of his career as a very productive middle linebacker, only to be moved to outside linebacker after an early season injury to Greg Llyod. He ended up making the Pro Bowl after that season. Either you can ball, or you can’t. Players make plays, no matter where they line up.
Seems like the Steelers' brass may be warming up to the idea already. Matthew Thomas was brought in as a UDFA because he's a very athletic, inside linebacker, but he's been getting reps this preseason on the edge. Now Dupree has gotten into the act. Makes sense to me.
What have they got to lose? But what if they start missing a ton of tackles or refuse to cover anybody playing the tight end position? No problem, they're doing that already.
That's what the preseason is for. These games don’t count, except to a large segment of Steelers Nation.
Maybe Ola Adeniyi has some long-snapper skills. Wouldn’t that be something?
What do you think, BTSC community? Crazy enough to work, or just crazy?