- But those moves, while wise, are preventative. There’s another proactive move that Tomlin also must make.
The Case for Playing Anthony Chickillo at ROLB vs. Cleveland
The Steelers tucked a minor, if not terribly surprising, bombshell into their inactive list prior to the Steelers Christmas comeback against the Ravens.
Inactives for @Steelers: WR Coates, QB Mettenberger, CB JGilbert, T Mihalik, TE Green, DE Tuitt, OLB JJones
— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) December 25, 2016
Given the Steelers injuries and player development issues, there’s nothing attention catching about 6 of those 7 inactives. But the decision deactivate Jarvis Jones speaks volumes.
- The Steelers drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft for the explicit purpose of replacing James Harrison.
The Steelers have stuck with Jones through injuries and growing pains, but following the Steelers loss to the Cowboys, Mike Tomlin ended the Steelers linebacker rotation. Since then Jarvis Jones snap count dropped from 56.9% to 50% vs. Cleveland, to 41.3% vs. the Colts, to 20% vs. the Giants, to 0.0% vs. the Bills and 0% vs. the Bengals.
Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola might try to argue differently on “Asked & Answered,” but the Steelers deactivating Jarvis Jones going into their biggest regular season game since 2010 signals loud and clear that Jones no longer holds a place in Pittsburgh’s plans.
- While James Harrison has indicated he’d consider returning in 2017, Silverback clearly isn’t the long-term answer.
Anthony Chickillo earned a starting role at left outside linebacker over Arthur Moats while Bud Dupree was recovering on injured reserve. Since his first start in Miami, Chickillo has managed two and a half sacks while splitting time with Moats.
- While Bud Dupree has a lot to learn, he’s managed 3.5 sacks in 6 games because of his athleticism.
Bud Dupree looks like a keeper on the left side, which is encouraging, but does nothing to plug the impending hole on the right side except potentially free Anthony Chickillo to move to the opposite end of the line.
- If you think that switching from one side to the other is simple, try eating with your left hand instead of your right and then only look at your plate using a mirror.
That’s why coaches tend to wait until the off season to make moves like that. Fair enough. But the Steelers have nothing to gain or lose in their season finale vs. the Browns, and by giving Anthony Chickillo significant snaps at right outside linebacker, they’ve got a unique chance to see how the young defender performs under live-fire conditions.
- Think of it as the defensive equivalent to telling a receiver or a running back to “go out and get open.”
Moving Anthony Chickillo to ROLB for all or part of the Browns game is a no-lose proposition for both the Steelers and Chickillo himself. Mike Tomlin and his coaching staff would be wise to take advantage.