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Ryan Shazier’s ‘selfish play’ comments mean more than what you may believe

Pittsburgh Steelers ILB Ryan Shazier went on ESPN and spoke about how the defense needs to play ‘selfish’, but you might want to think twice before screaming at the screen.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has been playing better the past two weeks. Yes, there have been two victories, and no, I don’t care who they played. Their style of play has been impressive. Fast, hard hitting and down right intimidating at times.

The defense had tallied 13 sacks leading up to their Week 11 game against the Cleveland Browns. They were able to notch 8 sacks in that game, followed by 3 against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12 on Thanksgiving night. Yes, 11 sacks in two weeks, almost doubling their season total in that time span.

So, what has changed? James Harrison gave his thoughts after their win over the Colts, but inside linebacker Ryan Shazier was on ESPN over the weekend and talked about how the defense needs to be selfish.

When I saw the clip of his interview, I immediately imagined fans sitting in their basements, watching Sportscenter and seeing Shazier on their screen thinking, “Finally the Steelers get some love from ESPN!”

Then Shazier starts talking about being selfish on defense, and a collective spray of Iron City Light beer gets spewed across their basement floor.

Football isn’t a selfish sport, if anything it is a selfless sport. Just ask Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel who selflessly ate up blockers to allow the linebackers to reap the rewards. Nonetheless, let’s look at Shazier’s comments before lashing out.

Here is what he said regarding being selfish:

“Be selfish. Do what you have to do. Focus on your job, and do your job selfishly. If everyone does their job selfishly we can get everything taken care of.”

For those who would rather watch the clip, check it out here:

The fact of the matter is simple. Shazier isn’t talking about playing selfish football, but rather just doing your job. This echoes similar sentiments spoken by veterans like William Gay, Lawrence Timmons and Harrison earlier in the season. There were times when the defense was so worried about everyone else, they didn’t get their job done at the same time.

It is understandable how the defense could have this feeling when they have rookies Javon Hargrave, Artie Burns and Sean Davis, two of those full-time starters now, on the field. You want to make sure everyone knows what they are doing, but at the same time, you have to know what you are supposed to be doing.

Shazier’s comments are in line with Harrison’s from after the game. Be selfish in your planning, preparation and your execution. Trust your teammates will do the same, and the defense will start to mend their broken ways.

At face value, Shazier’s comments could be taken as if being selfish, and always wanting the glory, is what is being preached, but if you look deeper you see the root of those comments is all about the collective group. The group which could decide the fate of the 2016 Steelers season.

If winning the AFC North and making some noise in the postseason takes a selfish defense, then by all means, be as selfish as you need to be.