The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to free up enough salary cap space to make some moves in the first wave of NFL Free Agency last week, and the biggest highlighted addition to the team was none other than tight end Eric Ebron.
Why did Ebron’s signing bring with it a high level of excitement? Simply put, he brings an athleticism to the tight end position the Steelers haven’t had in many years. His durability has been a talking point Steelers fans would like to ignore, but when healthy Ebron is a dynamic threat, especially in the red-zone.
In an interview with Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, Ebron talked about what he brings to the Steelers’ offense in 2020, and beyond. It was simple...he is a playmaker.
“I am a playmaker. That is all I have ever said since I was in college,” said Ebron. “I won’t be vocal as far as telling you things, but I am a playmaker. I just go out there and try to make plays. That is what I want to bring to the team. Another weapon people have to respect, have to honor, have to get out of their coverages and those things. Plus, it helps Ben identify what they are doing, it’s another weapon people have to respect, people have to honor, people have to get out of their disguises and coverages. It helps Ben and makes his job easier, makes my job easier because we are all on the same page. I am just trying to make as many plays as I can, win as many games as I can and be the best teammate I can be. That is ultimately what wins you games. That is it.
”And red zone, that was an area I learned how to manipulate with the Colts and studied hard. I want to make as many plays to help the team get to that area, because if we can get to that area, we have an opportunity for points. It is my job to help us get to the red zone and run after catch is how you do it.”
This is an area of need for the Steelers moving into 2020. In 2018, Randy Fichtner’s first year as offensive coordinator, the Steelers had the league’s best red-zone offense, but without Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback in 2019, that trend ended quickly. Ebron will hopefully bring a weapon to the Steelers’ offense across the board, but mainly in the red area when the field shortens and things become extremely precise.
Other than that, Ebron doesn’t think it will take him long to adapt to the Steelers offense, even if it is from afar.
“I should easily adapt. I love football. I study it,” said Ebron. “They sent me some basic information packets about formations and stuff, and it’s stuff I’ve heard before. All I want to do is get with Ben [Roethlisberger] because I want to hear his lingo. Everybody has a different language they speak. I want to understand what language he speaks. I want to understand what he thinks and what plays are his favorite, his go-to. Understanding the playbook should be easy. I just look forward to seeing how Ben sees the game.”
Sadly, due to the COVID-19 crisis, no one has any idea when this meeting/work will take place between Ebron and Roethlisberger. Sure, they could do an online meeting and watch film, but nothing beats the physical work necessary to become a cohesive unit. Nonetheless, Ebron is hoping to become Roethlisberger’s go-to man in the Steelers’ offense.
“I hope to be that safety blanket, that go-to, that loved tight end that everybody wants,” said Ebron. “That is all you hear. That Ben loves his tight end. It’s going to be pretty cool to see what we can do together. I have been texting him asking him as many questions as I can as early as I can. I want to pick his brain. If I can be his best friend and we can think the same, good things happen. That is really all I am trying to do.”
Working with Roethlisberger is just the latest quality quarterback Ebron has caught passes from in his career, but Roethlisberger is a different beast.
“I am excited. I can’t wait. Ben has earned so many stripes in this league. You know you are playing with a guy who is a winner. He is a fighter. He has played through so many tough injuries, done things to will his team to win, and won two Super Bowls. It’s going to be fun to get to learn from him. I came from two really good quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck, who has a genius mind. For me to go to Ben Roethlisberger who is like them as far as competing and willing their team to victory is fun.”
The hope is the world, including the sports world, gets back to work as soon as possible, and Ebron can get to some real work in hopes of turning the Steelers’ offense into a force to be reckoned with in 2020.