The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Defense is on a dubious path. As Ian pointed out earlier, the unit is on pace finish with some of the worst stats in the history of the franchise. While the season is in no way lost, the defense needs help and I see no reason not to give rookie Matthew Thomas a shot.
Thomas is the rookie linebacker from Florida State who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent. Athletically, Thomas was rated by some experts as high as a second round pick but some off-field issues and injuries kept his name from being called in the draft. Thomas is fast, in the mid 4 second-forty fast, and he’s incredibly long as well.
Would he make mistakes should he get a shot to play? Of course he will. And some of those mistakes could be costly. But can he perform any worse than what we are currently seeing? Why not use him in some specialty packages? Let him rush the passer or track a running back.
In the loss to Baltimore there were rumors that he was supposed to have seen time on D but never did. If you were paying attention, he did replace Darrius Heyward-Bey at the gunner position on the punt team. Do you realize how rare it is to use a linebacker there? Normally that role is reserved for wide receivers or defensive backs. Thomas did an excellent job and clearly surprised the Ravens across from him with his speed.
If you go back and look at the defensive game plan from Sunday night you’ll notice the Steelers rarely brought more than four guys. That tells me they were terrified of leaving their secondary exposed and in one on one situations. This is the mentality the Steelers have to move past. They have to give a kid like Thomas a shot to make plays and if he doesn’t?
At least they will have tried which is more than I can say for what I’ve seen so far.
Photo courtesy steelers.com