The Pittsburgh Steelers started off their 2022 preseason campaign by defeating the Seattle Seahawks in what was the first official game at the Steelers new home, Acrisure Stadium. It was the first time Steeler Nation got a look at the new acquisitions the front office made this off-season and I think it’s fair to say that most of them impressed. Obviously, the quarterback position is what will garner most attention, and rightfully so.
All three candidates for the starting quarterback job in Pittsburgh played a solid football game, and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett led a comeback drive to win the game with just :03 seconds left on the clock. If anything, Pickett, Mason Rudolph and Mitch Trubisky’s performances gave Steeler Nation excitement about what’s the come for the future of this Matt Canada offense.
Although the offense was the focal point of the victory, my eyes were on the opposite side of the football. At the middle linebacker position, we saw Myles Jack make his Steelers debut. Jack was signed to a two-year, $16 million dollar deal this off-season and immediately became the Steelers’ number one option at middle linebacker. Jack came to the Steelers with a six-year resume already under his belt, being a coveted second round pick back in 2016.
The former Jacksonville Jaguar has a unique background of playing running back early in his college career that he has been able to use to his advantage over the past six years, as he has intercepted at least one pass and had a combined 100 tackles in three of the past four seasons. Those stats are accompanied by 6.5 sacks and 19 total tackles for loss. Numbers that excited the Steelers front office as they are coming off a season in which their defense was ranked 28th in the NFL.
Although only totaling two tackles in this past Saturday’s season game, Steeler Nation got the chance to see the impact Jack could potentially have on this defense. Jack could be seen filling the rushing gaps with speed and aggression, something this defense has been missing from the middle of their defense in some time. Although the Steelers addressed this hole years ago in trading up to draft Devin Bush 10th overall back in 2019, the former first round pick has struggled to live up to expectations. After having a rookie season in which Bush tallied six takeaways, an ACL tear back in 2020 has clearly affected not only his play, but the way he attacks the football as a tackler.
While Jack excelled this past weekend, the same cannot be said about his potential counterparts. Bush continued to showcase his struggles getting downhill in the rushing game, while his main competition for Jack’s counterpart, Robert Spillane struggled to keep up with receivers in coverage giving the opponents the advantage in the passing game. Spillane has been vocal about making it hard for the Steelers coaching staff to not utilize him on the field, and Head Coach Mike Tomlin has made it clear that this is an open competition, but many believe that the pairing of Jack and Bush has the potential to be something special.
With just two preseason games remaining before the regular season begins vs the Cincinnati Bengals, it’s safe to say that even with just one preseason game under his belt, Jack has that middle linebacker spot locked up, and will only continue to shine in a defense that is in need of his abilities. It’s who will be next to him, once the season begins, that remains in question. While I do believe Bush will ultimately win the job, whatever the outcome is will be an upgrade to last season.
Will Myles Jack have an immediate impact on the Steelers middle linebacker position? Or has he already? Comment below!