In general manager Omar Khan’s first full offseason as the Pittsburgh Steelers general manager, he was tasked with overhauling an inside linebacker corps that had lost its identity. Since Ryan Shazier’s unfortunate career-ending injury, the organization tried many different formulas in an attempt to provide stability. Whether it be in the form of a high draft pick (Devin Bush) or through numerous free agent stop-gap options (Jon Bostic, Joe Schobert, Myles Jack), things were trending in the wrong direction. But in 2023, they got it right, at least before the injuries set in. Now as the last healthy man standing, Elandon Roberts role in this defense is only going to expand.
In his previous stops with the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins, Roberts had garnered a well-deserved reputation as a tenacious run stopper in the middle. So far this season, Roberts has generated a run stop on 16% of his opportunities, by far the most among inside linebackers according to PFF. Before the season, the Steelers had a vision for what this trio would look like, with him being the primary force against the run, and the returns have been tremendous. The numbers bear it out, with the defense allowing 3.9 yards per carry when he’s on the field compared to 5.3 when he’s on the sidelines, per SIS.
In week ten, Roberts continued his strong play by helping hold the Packers offense, led by Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon to a 31.8% success rate while running the football. It wasn’t perfect, but the team only allowed 19 points on the afternoon, consistently buckling down in crucial situations in the red zone. Roberts made a handful of plays that give a perfect depiction of why he’s so important to their game plan on a weekly basis while also showing some potential concerns about how he might be used in the future.