Ryan Shazier is the definition of a high variance player. From week to week he can look spectacular, or just plain awful. The last two games are a great example of this. Against the Bears, the team got the bad Ryan Shazier. Missing tackles, poor gap assignment, and no big plays to speak of. One week later versus the Ravens, it was the complete opposite. Shazier caused a turnover by skying through the air to tip a pass which was subsequently intercepted by Mike Hilton. He also was sound on his gap assignments and limited the missed tackles. That version of Ryan Shazier makes him one of the most feared linebackers in the game. His speed and athletic ability are unmatched at the linebacker position. He becomes an absolute nightmare for opposing teams to game plan for. Ironically it may be that same athleticism that causes him to play poorly at times.
Shazier is so fast, at times he takes himself out of the play be streaking by the ball carrier. It’s become an all too often occurence to watch. What’s worse, by missing a tackle in the backfield Shazier has affectively taken himself out of the play leaving the ret of the defense short handed. Harnessing his immense talent is the only thing keeping him from becoming a regular candidate for defensive player of the year. Entering his fourth season, one would hope he would have figured out how to do this, but the same problems have continued in 2017.
Steelers coaches are faced with a real dilemma with their talented linebacker. Do they try to reign him in and risk losing what makes him so special? Or do they allow Shazier to play as is and hope the good out ways the bad? At some point maybe Ryan Shazier figures it out on his own. Learning to reel in that incredible athleticism just enough where he can be under control. When and if that happens, he may yet become one of the greatest linebackers in Steelers history……and that’s saying something when it comes to this team.