There seems to be some good news on the Ryan Shazier injury front. It has been reported that he now has movement in his lower extremities. While not out of the woods yet, that news gives everyone associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers a reason to be optimistic. There’s no way to speculate when or if Shazier will be back on a football field. It is reasonable to assume that in the short-term the club will be in need of an inside linebacker. The situation was made even worse when Tyler Matakevich also went down with an injury Monday night.
With only two healthy inside linebackers currently on the roster, the Steelers were forced to make a move on Tuesday. The team signed former player Sean Spence for the remainder of the season. Spence should be generally familiar with the defensive system having played here for several seasons. However much has changed since the Dick Lebeau days in Pittsburgh. There is also the fact that Spence hasn’t played a meaningful snap all season. He has played in only three games with Indianapolis this season without registering a defensive stat.
Perhaps the solution can come from within the organization. With an overabundance of outside linebackers currently on the team, maybe it’s time to shift one inside. In my opinion the best candidate for this would be Bud Dupree. It’s becoming very clear at this point Dupree will never be the dominant pass rusher the Steelers thought they got in the first round. What he does do well seems perfectly suited for inside linebacker. To start out with, Dupree might be the best tackler on the team. It’s an obvious must for any inside linebacker. Next, other than Shazier he is certainly the best athlete of all the linebackers left on the roster. This would make him most qualified to take on the Shazier role in the Pittsburgh defense. Moving Dupree inside would also have another positive affect on this defense. A move such as this would actually allow the Steelers to play their best pass rushing linebacker………James Harrison. That’s right, with only a few games left in the season it’s time to dust off the moth balls and throw Harrison into the mix. Having a designated pass rusher would really help cover up some of the deficiencies in the secondary.
By no means would this be an easy move. It would be a difficult transition from outside to inside linebacker for sure. When you take into account Dupree’s familiarity with the defense, and his exceptional athletic ability it doesn’t seem impossible to pull off. It may be the best solution for an awful situation, both in the short-term and possibly permanently.
That is exactly what I was thinking. Why didn’t the Steelers rotate Bud Dupree inside and play James Harrison outside? Bud Dupree might actually flourish inside and we know how great James Harrison is. Instead we release James Harrison and now he will go to the Super Bowl as a Patriot. Painful.