Since Ryan Shazier sustained a career-ending spinal injury, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been desperately searching for help at the linebacker position. They tried filling the void with stop-gap options in free agency and with minor trades before taking Devin Bush in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
We know how that story went. Bush turned out to be a busted draft choice, while guys like Myles Jack and Robert Spillane weren't getting the job done. In 2023, it looked like things were finally heading in the right direction.
During the offseason, the Steelers signed linebackers Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts before snagging Kwon Alexander at the beginning of training camp. The early-season results with their new trio of off-ball linebackers were promising. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for disaster to strike.
Early on, things were looking promising, with each of their top three linebackers proving to be a step up from their previous unit in 2022. They served their roles and did a respectable job with their assignments. Collectively, their skill sets came together like patchwork to make for a solid positional group.
But by the midway point of the season, the Steelers were left decimated.
Steelers linebackers aren't getting the job done in 2023
It began when Holcomb suffered a gruesome knee injury against the Titans in Week 9. He was carted off the field and quickly ruled out for the season with an ACL tear. One week later against the Titans, Kwon Alexander ruptured his Achilles and was done for the year.
This left Elandon Roberts to try to pick up the pieces. Though Roberts is good in his downhill role (a la Vince Williams), he hasn't impressed since being forced into playing full-time. However, his new counterparts are cringingly bad.
Following the season-ending injuries to Alexander and Holcomb, the Steelers turned to veteran Mykal Walker and former seventh-round pick Mark Robinson for help. The results have been worse than fans could have imagined, as both linebackers have struggled mightily defending the pass since seeing the field for significant action.
The bad thing is that the Steelers are running out of options to turn to. One player they might have called up from the practice squad is Tariq Carpenter. Unfortunately, Carpenter was just arrested on charges and has been released by the team, according to KDKA News.
Now Pittsburgh's 2023 linebackers aren't even looking as good as the pedestrian trio of guys they rolled with in 2022. Everyone in this positional group (with maybe only Elandon Roberts as the exception) is either injured, arrested, or flat-out bad, and their performances have been costing the Pittsburgh Steelers big time.