Our last episode of this film room session focused on how the abilities of Ryan Shazier impact Pittsburgh's defense against their opponents' ground game. We highlighted how Shazier can decipher plays even when occupied by blockers, how he uses his speed to slash through offensive lines to make plays on running backs to shut down the ground game of opponents.
This edition focuses on Shazier's pass rush skills and how he became a problem for quarterbacks throughout the 2015-2016 NFL season.
Can be an edge rusher
Steelers fans became accustomed to the traditional middle linebacker style of James Farrior over the 2000's who played a traditional 3-4 inside linebacker that plugged the run and was the field general for the defense. Shazier's style of play makes him a playmaker from all over the field and we continue to highlight that here.
Against the run, Shazier's presence on the edge was a problem, but he is also a headache as a pass rusher from the outside. While other players contribute to the pressure on Colin Kaepernick here, Shazier beats the left tackle to get into the backfield and track down one of the faster quarterbacks in the NFL. Notice how he attacks the outermost shoulder of the tackle and drives through it to lock onto Kaepernick.
Shazier shows the capability to be a good edge rusher in spots, but we're here to show you can rush from anywhere.
Powers through weak blockers
Shazier's strength is not to be understated when talking about his speed. Watch as he bench presses Duke Johnson Jr. out of his spot and powers on through to sack Johnny Manziel in a pretty straightforward sack. Winning one-on-one matchups like this makes him a nightmare for running backs staying in to block and he may get many more of these opportunities as offenses focus on Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and company.
Also not to be understated is Shazier's technique. One thing that he does in both this play and the last, he gets his hands inside of the man blocking him to control the player and drive through them. This is a fundamental element to a good pass rusher; winning the hand battle allows for an athlete like Shazier to neutralize the strength and size of an offensive linemen by getting inside their torso and disengaging when he is in the right position to finish the play.
The extra elements
Shazier seems to be able to both stop the run and rush the passer from anywhere in the box. What we cover next edition is his ability to cover the pass; a third dimension for offenses to plan for as they prepare to face the Steelers' defense.