PITTSBURGH – Things move quickly in the NFL, even if a player happens to be a new addition. Joe Schobert is finding that out very quickly as he finds his footing with the Steelers. The Steelers have grand plans for the former Browns and Jaguars linebacker. Schobert is finding out that it likely includes him being an every-down linebacker, playing at the Mack linebacker position, and calling the defensive plays.
“That’s what they’ve got me at now, just learning Dime linebacker and the Mack backer in Okie personnel, so just getting that stuff underway,” Schobert said. “Once the season starts, getting a green dot on the helmet, getting the calls from the coaches. That was the plan.”
While Schobert is going to enter the jungle of his sixth scheme change in his career, he knows that it will be a challenge. The Steelers defense is unlike anything that Schobert has ever played in. The closest for him is the one he played with under Ray Horton in his rookie season, but it’s still vastly different from that.
“From my scheme in Jacksonville last year and my scheme in Cleveland in 2019, it’s totally different than those,” Schobert said. “It’s more similar to my rookie year in Cleveland when Ray Horton was the defensive coordinator. It’s more along those lines, but it’s not even too close to that. It’s a new adjustment, but hopefully, it’ll be a smooth one.”
In particular, the coverage shells are far different, which will change Schobert’s gap responsibilities on run fits. However, switching from the Mike linebacker to the Mack linebacker position is a change, even if by definition, they are the translation of one another. They simply require different responsibilities.
“The scheme is totally different,” Schobert said. “It was 4-3 last year, a lot of Cover 3 base personnel, a little bit of blitzing. This year it’s 3-4, 4-3 kind of hybrid, a lot of blitzing, and everything is somewhat similar in coverage. We’ve run similar schemes, but the overall mentality in Jacksonville is totally different this year.”
For Schobert, he is simply trying to learn as much as he can from the new scheme before Saturday’s game, and then from there, he hopes he can settle in more as the season progresses.
“Hopefully, by Saturday, the game, I’ll be able to at least run the basic stuff pretty confidently,” Schobert said. “And then as the games go on, the season progresses, it’ll just get more comfortable. It’s just going to take reps. I don’t know how many reps I’ll get before it’ll feel great, before I’ll be 100 percent comfortable making all the calls, communicating with everybody on defense, but I think it’ll be a pretty easy, pretty fluid process, especially with all the veterans that are on the defense already.”
Schobert was already wearing the green dot on Sunday. Meanwhile, he and Bush split reps at the Dime backer spot. Whether or not he ultimately wins that spot will likely depend on how he picks up the scheme and just how well Bush performs. Regardless, it will be a competition to watch from now until the season starts.