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 Post subject: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl run
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:22 pm 
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http://www.espn.com/nfl/insider/story/_/id/17590481/ryan-shazier-key-pittsburgh-steelers-super-bowl-run-nfl-2016

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Since the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been armed with numerous secret weapons.

So this is what the Steelers' defensive rebuild is supposed to look like. One soggy, throwback day of football in Heinz Field validated all those defensive draft picks and free agency signings over the last four years.
They had Franco Harris' Italian Army. The Steel Curtain was their foundation. Cowher Power gave them the next push after their four Super Bowl runs from the '70s. Big Ben has been the strength of the offense since 2004.

But a building force on defense is becoming their newest secret weapon. His name is Ryan Shazier, and the linebacker is the team's most important player as they try to get back to the Super Bowl.

"In terms of it, if he goes, we go," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.


Speed is a big part of the Steelers' personality. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger runs a fast-paced offense that expects to score 30 points per game. All the Steelers ask of their defense is to not give up more than 20 points per game. Last season, the D gave up a lot of yards but held opponents to under 20 PPG.

So far this season, things are looking promising, and Shazier has been the defense's most important player. He has 17 total tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. The Steelers have given up 16 points in each of the first two games. The offense has averaged 31 PPG. If Shazier's leadership and playmaking ability can spearhead the defense, the Steelers could be a 12-4 team and get a high seed in the playoffs.

Shazier is making a full-speed rush at becoming the star of the defense. Injuries held him back during his first two seasons. The 2014 first-round pick from Ohio State missed 13 of his first 32 games because of injuries.

When he's healthy, though, few defenders are like him. He's 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds and has 4.4 speed.


Ryan Shazier, who just turned 24, is becoming a star for the Steelers. The former first-round pick is finally living up to his potential. Brian Kunst/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire
"Oh, man, that guy is a freak," linebacker Arthur Moats said. "You've got to think about his speed and strength combination. The guy flies around, but at the same time, you've got to know about his strength. He's running at guys full speed. You know some guys who run 4.3s who don't run into guys at full speed. He embraces that. That's what makes him such a violent hitter.''

Speed and violent hitting have been part of Shazier's game since he came into the league, but another part of his game accelerated in 2015. It's his mind. Around Week 10 last season, Tomlin put the communications device in Shazier's helmet and made him the quarterback of the defense.

Steelers defenders found out his words are as impactful as his plays. His ability to communicate clearly and quickly kept everyone better aware of their assignments.

"His communication has been critical, as has his maturity," defensive end Cameron Heyward said. "He's talking to everybody. Being an inside linebacker, he's got to relate to the secondary, and he also has to relate to the guys on the front."

This isn't by accident. At 7:30 a.m. most days, Shazier and safety Mike Mitchell get together and break down video. The sessions are as intense as the games.

"We don't have to be there until 9, but we get in there every day before we are supposed to, and we get into it every day on film," Mitchell said. "I think he's becoming a leader. He's really grown. I communicate with him with what I'm seeing from the secondary and he absorbs all that, and I think it helps him become a better player. He's really quarterbacking our defense."

What's encouraging for the Steelers is that he's doing this after just turning 24 years old.


Shazier already has an interception and forced fumble -- to go along with 17 tackles -- this season. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
"He's coming into his own as a linebacker and as a defensive signal-caller or the defensive quarterback," Tomlin said. "His leadership and communication are central to us putting together a group. He's grown by leaps and bounds, and I think because of that we've grown leaps and bounds. But we've still got some more to do."

Shazier's play on the field is gaining notice around the league. He had 11 tackles Sunday in a 24-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals; there were brilliant tackles and run stops all over the field, illustrating how his recognition and speed work together.

"I was playing my zone, other side of field, and I just see the play develop," Shazier said of his third-quarter stop of Jeremy Hill for a mere 1-yard gain. "I saw an opening. Sometimes, I can make plays other guys can't make. I shot the gap. Nobody was there. I just cut inside and got him."

The Steelers drafted him for his speed. Scouts compared him to Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, an inside linebacker with great speed. They loved the way Shazier explodes into plays.

Speed has always been part of his game. But at no point, even though he was tried at receiver and tight end briefly in high school, did he want to play offense.

"I never got the ball," Shazier said of his limited offensive experience. "I was fast enough where you had to respect my speed, but the coaches didn't want to get me hurt on offense because they knew I was going to play defense in college. The thing with me is that I like tackling. I would rather hit somebody."


Teammates envision him being an 11-tackle-per-game player. Tomlin told Shazier that he is reminiscent of Derrick Brooks, who was a Hall of Fame outside linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Shazier plays a different position, he has the ability to get the tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles Brooks made through his career.

"It's hard to compare him to anyone," Moats said. "The things he does from the coverage aspect and playing the run so well -- I can't think of anyone right now. He's a safety in coverage, but he's a thumping linebacker when it comes to the run. I would definitely say he's a secret weapon."

"I don't know if the secret is out yet, but I think people are starting to pay attention to our defense," Shazier said.

Well, the secret's out now.


He gets a lot of shit around here, but he's not even close to his ceiling yet and he's improving. Health is a big part of that.

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"Antonio Brown doesn't need to respond to anything," Tomlin said. "He walks into stadiums and he's Antonio Brown and he made Antonio Brown plays."


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:24 pm 
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Good article. Shaz is the man. If we win it all I'll shave my eyebrows.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:40 pm 
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They must have edited out the part about wrist circumference unless i just missed it.

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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:46 pm 
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jebrick wrote:
They must have edited out the part about wrist circumference unless i just missed it.


You missed it- was right next to Tubmonster


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:52 pm 
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Was just driving, listening to Sirius NFL radio and the host said

Wait for it

Wait for it

Wait for it








"I think Ryan Shazier could win NFL Defensive Player of the Year"

Anyone else happen to hear that?

Shazpussy winning DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR???

This place will go nuts.

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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:58 pm 
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But does the DPOY trophy fit into a tub?

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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:00 pm 
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Dan Smith--BYU wrote:
But does the DPOY trophy fit into a tub?


Ice in the tub?

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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:17 pm 
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BarryFoster wrote:
Was just driving, listening to Sirius NFL radio and the host said

Wait for it

Wait for it

Wait for it








"I think Ryan Shazier could win NFL Defensive Player of the Year"

Anyone else happen to hear that?

Shazpussy winning DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR???

This place will go nuts.


I'll go back and find the thread...I made that prediction 2 months ago. He's a beast, health is his only enemy.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:30 pm 
Face it. Our TubMonster is growing up :lol:

Go Steelers. Go TubMonster


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN - Why Ryan Shazier is key to a Steelers Super Bowl
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:37 pm 
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Location: Sunny Delaware (but the murdery part)
Ah, to pull up some of the old ZivClem threads now.


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