Steelers’ second year linebacker Ryan Shazier stole the show in a 43-18 blowout of the 49ers on Sunday; racking up 15 tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery.
While Shazier probably deserved the game ball, there was plenty of contributions from the rest of the Steelers’ front 7 as well, and what’s really encouraging is that contributions are coming from young talent.
Cam Heyward has become to torch bearer for this defense. He’s black and gold material through and through, and chipped in 5 tackles and a sack. That sort of play has come to be expected from Cam though.
What wasn’t necessarily expected, but was a welcomed addition was fellow edge man Stephon Tuitt who had 1.5 sacks.
While I still think he has work to do, it’s really nice to see rookie first round pick Bud Dupree making contributions early, getting a sack in each of his first two career games. Dupree was said to be raw coming out of school, but I wrote early on that his size would put him ahead of where Jarvis Jones was as a rookie.
Speaking of Jones, he’s actually starting to come on as well. I’m starting to think that Jarvis may never be the star the Steelers’ thought he would be when they drafted him… but honestly I think I’m ok with that if Jones can become a steady contributor. Jones’ added size is apparent when you watch him this season. He’s stacking and shedding blocks to make plays in the run game and there’s a bull rush existent, which wasn’t the past 2 seasons.
Obviously, there’s still a ton of issues in the secondary that need to be ironed out, but the Steelers defenses have always been built up front. If the front 7 can get pressure consistently like they did on Colin Kaepernick, this defense is going to be good enough to give them a chance every game.
I said last week that the Steelers’ issues were more mental than physical, and we saw less of that this week. I think that longer week of prep did the team well. Hopefully they continue to build on that knowledge of the scheme, and start stacking some wins, with the Rams and Ravens looking pretty shaky in week 2 and coming up on the schedule.