Steelers Vertex: What Joe Schobert brings to Steelers

As the Pittsburgh Steelers have now completed half of their preseason games. Although there are a number of things from last week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles which we could break down, it’s the trade report from during the game which we will focus on this week. Steelers acquired Joe Schobert, a linebacker from the Jacksonville Jaguars, so before he sees game action let’s take a deeper look at what he brings to the Steel City.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex– A single point at which two or more lines intersect.

Sometimes, it’s worth making a great deal. PointTo draw a correct conclusion, two systems of analysis need to be combined. These two methods are statistical analysis (film breakdown) in this case. Geoffrey Benedict (the movie guru) and Dave Schofield, the stat geek, have joined forces to prove that there is one. Point based on our two Lines of thinking.

Here’s the breakdown using two different lines.


The Stats Line

Before diving into Schobert’s stats, let’s take a look at the deal which brought him to Pittsburgh. The Steelers sent their sixth round draft pick from the 2022 NFL draft to Jacksonville in exchange for Joe Schobert and $3.65 million of his 2021 base salary. Schobert’s salary cap is $1.88million after a salary restructuring of $2.36million into a signing bonus. Schobert does have a cap of $9.84million for 2022. However, should the Steelers decide that they want to move on after one season, it will only cost them $1.77million.

In Schobert’s five year career, the first four of which was with the Cleveland BrownsHe has 549 tackles, 21 of which were for loss. Schobert’s stats include 11.0 sacks and 25 quarterback hits. He also has nine forced fumbles and three fumble recovery. Schubert has also had nine career interceptions, and 24 passes defensed.

Schobert recorded 141 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles last year. He also had 2.5 sacks and six quarterback hits. Pro Football Reference reported that Schobert missed 14 tackles, which is a 9.9% missed tackle rate. Schubert was targeted 66x in the passing game, giving up 49 completions as well as six touchdowns. Pro Football Focus only credits him with three interceptions.

Stats can be a great starting point (hence why they are first in our vertex articles), but often they need the context and details of film to paint the whole picture.


The Film Line

Joe Schobert is a highly productive and productive linebacker who went on to the Pro Bowl as a Cleveland Brown. He has had some big games against the Pittsburgh Steelers. After his 2019 performance, which included his best game in his career in Week 11 victory over the Steelers, he was awarded a big contract by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Joe Schobert shows the film what earned him a Pro Bowl nomination and a large contract.

2019 Joe Schobert (#53), the linebacker is located just below the hash marks at the bottom of screen.

Schobert is a fluid, smart, and fluidly moving linebacker who does a great job getting to the ball. He does a good job of avoiding picking up the ball and shows good speed when running back.

2019 Joe Schobert is the linebacker at the middle of the field, between the hashmarks.

Here he again is on the running back. He pressures the quarterback when his man is not in blocking.

These plays are much more aggressive by the Steelers. They ask their linebackers to get up on the line as soon as it is clear whether the back is blocking or running routes. Schobert will need time to adjust, and if that happens, Schobert could easily surpass his career high in sacks.

2020 Joe Schobert (#47), the linebacker to bottom of screen, stands right on goal line.

You aren’t going to get flashy plays with Joe Schobert knifing into the backfield to blow up a run, or plays where he drives a lineman into the run lane to stuff the runner. What you will get is a linebacker capable of making the plays in front. He’s more reliable than he is flashy, in large part because he isn’t a high-end athlete.

While his more normal level of athleticism doesn’t prevent Schobert from making plays and putting up good stats, it limits the assignments he can reasonably be asked to perform.

2020 Joe Schobert (#47), is the linebacker on the right side of screen. He is pointing as play begins.

The Chargers used motion to get Schobert matched up 1 on 1 with a 6’8” TE with pretty solid speed. The result was predictable. Schobert is a good coverage linebacker, but not when he’s manned up on a taller and faster tight end like this play. He excels in running backs and in the zone. Fortunately the Steelers have Devin Bush and Terrell Edmunds who are better fits for this kind of assignment, and when they do end up with this kind of mismatch, usually have help over the top for their linebacker, something Schobert doesn’t get on this play.

2020 Joe Schobert is the middle-linebacker, in between the hash marks.

Another thing I saw on film was plays like this. Schobert isn’t a dynamic run defender, and he isn’t the best at avoiding blocks like the one here. He is focused in on the running back and runs himself right into a block, and fighting with offensive lineman isn’t his game.


The Point:

While Schobert is an upgrade to the linebackers the Steelers have behind Devin Bush, and likely will be the best inside linebacker partner Bush has had so far, there’s a reason Jacksonville wasn’t going to pay him like a star linebacker. He looks and plays much like Robert Spillane in 2020. That’s not a criticism, Spillane was really good in 2020 before his injury. Joe Schobert is just a better version of Robert Spillane, and he has years of film showing that compared to Spillane’s run of 8 good games last season.

The biggest positive Joe Schobert brings to the Steelers is reliability, he’s a well-rounded linebacker that has been productive and dependable his entire career. There’s a lot of value in that.


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