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hawaiiansteel
06-13-2012, 08:29 PM
Just How Safe Is Steelers Inside Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 by Dave Bryan


The Pittsburgh Steelers signed veteran inside linebacker Brandon Johnson to the roster on Wednesday and immediately the status of 2010 fifth round draft pick Stevenson Sylvester is called into question.

The first thing that you have to keep in mind is that the Steelers are apparently down three linebacker bodies at mini-camp as James Harrison, Jason Worilds and Sylvester are sidelined right now. Harrison reportedly has fluid on his knee and Worilds is recovering from off-season wrist surgery. The nature of the Sylvester injury is still unknown at this time, but he reportedly missed some time during the OTA sessions in addition. Add all of this up and you can see why Johnson, who was worked out by the Steelers back in early May, was signed.

Sylvester has seen just over 70 snaps on defense during his first two seasons in the league, many of which have come late in blow-out games. 35 of those 70 plus snaps came against the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in weeks 8 and 9 last season due to injuries to the Steelers linebacker corps, and the Utah product did not flash in either of those two games. Sylvester has contributed on special teams during his first two seasons, but that is about it.

Early in the off-season the Steelers released veteran James Farrior and it was thought that Sylvester would possibly be a lock to back up veteran Larry Foote as the strong-side linebacker in 2012. Following the selection of inside linebacker Sean Spence in the third round of the draft back in April, linebacker coach Keith Butler was asked if Sylvester has long-term starting potential. "I need to see more from him," said Butler. "He might think he does, but he has to convince me first." Butler also noted that his young linebackers missed valuable time last off-season because of the lockout. "What probably hurt our young guys last year, (Stevenson and Worilds) those two guys didn’t have OTAs. Most of the time young linebackers get better their second year because of the OTAs," said Butler. "The first year, they come in and they go through a complex system. They’re having to think out there, and as a consequence they don’t move very fast. They’re thinking. The next year they come in and it’s night and day for them because of repetition. They go, “Oh, that’s what we did. That makes sense now.” They move much faster. Well, these guys didn’t have the benefit of those OTAs, and we had to get them in training camp and they were like rookies. Instead of having the OTAs and the minicamp again and then the training camp, they just had training camp. We took out two-thirds of that process for them to learn by having the lockout. That hurt them quite a bit in my opinion, and Jason Worilds really came on for us at the end of the year. I’m sure that Sly will do the same thing this year."

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert was asked about Sylvester last Thursday when OTA sessions wrapped up, and if he would compete with Foote for the starting BUCK position this season. "Yeah, we have Larry and we have Stevenson Sylvester, who had a good rookie year, especially on special teams," said Colbert. Last year he had a little bit of a knee problem that nagged him and held him back for the season. They'll come in and they'll compete for that spot. Of course Larry is a veteran, and he will be ahead of him right now, but Sly will definitely give him some competition, because like I said, the rookie year we were kind of excited in him, but last year he had a couple of setbacks."

The comments that Colbert made were pretty generic, just as one would expect, but he did reveal that Sylvester had a knee problem that nagged him last year. Sylvester also showed up on the injury report with calf injury last year, but he was only inactive for the week 12 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

While Sylvester has made his mark on special teams, the recently signed Johnson is also known as a superb special teams player, and was even the special teams captain at one time when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson, while not regarded as a full-time starter type of player, has played both the strong-side and weak-side over the course of his career. Also not to be forgotten is inside linebacker Mortty Ivy, who reportedly had a good training camp with the Steelers last year and former Florida linebacker Brandon Hicks, who Butler noted last Thursday as a player that had caught his eye during the OTA sessions.

While roster moves, OTA reports and injury reports in June have to be taken with a grain of salt, you have to think that Sylvester has secured absolutely nothing in regard to a 53 man roster spot this year with training camp just a little more than a month away. Missing precious time on the field because of an injury does not help his cause and he needs to make sure he is 100% healthy by the time the team reports to Latrobe. It's not time to throw him out with bath water just yet, but his situation certainly is worth paying attention to once training camp begins.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/just_how_safe_is_steelers_inside_linebacker_steven son_sylvester/11004383

Slapstick
06-13-2012, 10:09 PM
While I have hopes that Stevenson Sylvester can play...

What has he done?

hawaiiansteel
06-28-2012, 03:15 PM
Sylvester brings the right approach

Posted Jun 26, 2012
Teresa Varley - Steelers.com

Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester is hoping with the departure of James Farrior that his role on defense will increase this year, but he also knows that contributing on special teams will be a key for him just as it has been in his first two seasons.

“It’s so vital to the game,” said Sylvester of special teams. “Field position is huge at this level. People overlook that. I love being part of having the opposing offense start inside the 10-yard line. That helps our play calling, allows us to run blitzes. When we have an offense backed up and they have little opportunity to open their playbook then that will make us that much better. We are better when we are blitzing and pressuring the quarterback.

“Coach Al Everest tells us we send a message and whatever message you start the game with, it sets the tone. That could set the tone for the entire game for everybody to come out fired up and make the same plays.”

And there is nothing Sylvester likes more than being the player that delivers the hit that buries the other team deep.

“It’s like you are in the 100-yard dash and near the finish line and number two and three are behind you,” said Sylvester. “The ribbon is right there and you know you got it first. It’s the same thing. It’s an amazing feeling. You just unload and take out everything you have on the returner and to get the clean hit is everything.”

Sylvester knows there is a certain mentality you have to possess to play special teams, one that combines drive, passion and no fear.

“You have to be able to win, to want to win,” said Sylvester. “You can’t settle for just being there. If you just sit there guys like Antonio Brown will get by you. You can never be lackadaisical. I take my job seriously. I love to be on the field.”

http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Sylvester-brings-the-right-approach/22a57424-9cb1-4fbd-9dec-ec429885af65

phillyesq
06-29-2012, 02:48 PM
While I have hopes that Stevenson Sylvester can play...

What has he done?

Very little in the base defense, but he has been strong on special teams. Success on special teams does not necessarily mean that he will be a good starter, but the guys that did not make an impact on special teams (I'm thinking Bruce Davis and Alonzo Jackson, among others) typically do not succeed as starters.

Slapstick
06-29-2012, 02:52 PM
Very little in the base defense, but he has been strong on special teams. Success on special teams does not necessarily mean that he will be a good starter, but the guys that did not make an impact on special teams (I'm thinking Bruce Davis and Alonzo Jackson, among others) typically do not succeed as starters.

Point taken. Nonetheless, I'm not certain that is enough to make him "safe"...

Crash
06-29-2012, 02:57 PM
Point taken. Nonetheless, I'm not certain that is enough to make him "safe"...

You can't be certain of anything, you don't work in the NFL.

So sit there and wait for game day.

Slapstick
06-29-2012, 02:59 PM
You can't be certain of anything, you don't work in the NFL.

So sit there and wait for game day.

And you do the same...

Crash
06-29-2012, 02:59 PM
While I have hopes that Stevenson Sylvester can play...

What has he done?

He works in the NFL. You don't.

According to you're own logic, you can't question him or his ability.

So shut it.

Crash
06-29-2012, 03:03 PM
And you do the same...

Not me, YOU. I don't believe in your BS logic. So I value fans who have an actual opinion.

If you believe that people have to work in the NFL to be qualified to discuss this team? Then you can't be posting anywhere since you don't work in the NFL.

See ya.

Slapstick
06-29-2012, 03:04 PM
He works in the NFL. You don't.

According to you're own logic, you can't question him or his ability.

So shut it.


Same one as everyone here I bet. None.

So now what? No one's opinion matters? Why even post here then?

Why discuss the team then?

Never complain about inconsistency again...

Crash
06-29-2012, 03:05 PM
You aren't consistent Slap. Hold yourself to the same standards as you hold others to.

Slapstick
06-29-2012, 03:06 PM
Not me, YOU. I don't believe in your BS logic. So I value fans who have an actual opinion.

If you believe that people have to work in the NFL to be qualified to discuss this team? Then you can't be posting anywhere since you don't work in the NFL.

See ya.

So, you're leaving? Cool...

But, instead of leaving, you could just respect the idea that other people have differeing opinions. Because, if you never played in the NFL and you never worked for an NFL team, then your opinion is just as worthless and uninformed as mine or anyone else's on this board...

Get over it...

Crash
06-29-2012, 03:11 PM
But, instead of leaving, you could just respect the idea that other people have differeing opinions.

Always have. It's sheep like you who hide behind the "you don't work in the NFL" card when someone dare disagree with the Saintly Rooney's.

Well neither do you.

So if that's how YOU feel, then you shouldn't be posting anywhere discussing this team.

You better find another hobby then. Knitting, gardening, fishing, etc.

Slapstick
06-29-2012, 03:16 PM
Always have. It's sheep like you who hide behind the "you don't work in the NFL" card when someone dare disagree with the Saintly Rooney's.

Well neither do you.

So if that's how YOU feel, then you shouldn't be posting anywhere discussing this team.

You better find another hobby then. Knitting, gardening, fishing, etc.

I've never said anything other than everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I've never said anything other than people can post what they want to.

What I have said is that your opinion is no better or more important than anyone's. You are no better qualified than I am, or any number of posters on the board, to express an opinion...and you don't have to be disrespectful, condescending or self-important to get your point across...

When you tell people to "watch the games" or "follow the team", it comes across as infantile...

You are allowed to agree in order to simply disagree as opposed to arguing for the sake of arguing...

phillyesq
06-29-2012, 04:03 PM
Point taken. Nonetheless, I'm not certain that is enough to make him "safe"...

Agreed. I could see him stepping up and solidifying himself as a backup and potential starter, or I could see him not making the team.

Keyplay1
06-30-2012, 05:15 AM
Here is what the Steelers roster of LB looks like as of now:

chris carter, larry foote, james harrison, brandon hicks, mortty ivy, brandon johnson, marshall mcfadden, adrian robinson, sean spence, stevenson sylvester, lawrence timmons, lamarr woodley, jason worilds.

and yesterday the steelers released brandon lindsey and signed ryan baker who played at LSU.

I looked up the profile on baker and he looks promising. It said that he started 12 games for LSU as a WILL linebacker.

I noticed that in the main article there were mentions of strong side LB, weak side LB, the Buck LB etc. This always did confuse me. So I did a quick Google and it said the Will LB is the LOLB or WEAKside LB in both the 4-3 and 3-4 D's, so I guess he will be competing for the backup spot behing Lamarr Woodley. Probably look at him at the ILB spots also.

What's funny about this is for years I always thought the side Woodley plays on was the strong side. Oh well it really doesn't matter whether the guy is called the Sam, Mike, Will, or the 4th one is the Rush, the Butch, the Rover, the Buck. the Jack or the freaking whatever. I suppose it's what they do that counts. No? Me, I'm satisfied with the simple ROLB, RILB, LILB, LOLB.

Slapstick
06-30-2012, 09:19 AM
Woodley does play on the strong side...

Strong side and weak side are determined by the offense...since roughly 90% of the population is right-handed, the right side is considered the strong side...

Although Woodley plays on the defense's left, it is the offense's right...

Keyplay1
06-30-2012, 10:30 AM
Woodley does play on the strong side...

Strong side and weak side are determined by the offense...since roughly 90% of the population is right-handed, the right side is considered the strong side...

Although Woodley plays on the defense's left, it is the offense's right... T

That is what I thought too.

But Wiki says: "In a 3-4 defense the "Will" Linebacker plays on the "weakside" of the two middle Linebacker positions and a 4th Linebacker comes in to play the weakside. Known as a "Rush", "Rover", "Jack", "Butch" and/or "Buck" Linebacker, their responsibility is more pass rush based but often is called into run stop (gap control) and pass coverage. The weakside linebacker is also known as the left outside linebacker (LOLB).

From Wiki: "The strongside linebacker (SLB) is often nicknamed "Sam" for purposes of calling a blitz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blitz_%28American_football%29). Since the strong side of the offensive team (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offensive_team) is the side on which the tight end (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tight_end) lines up, or whichever side contains the most personnel, the strongside linebacker usually lines up across from the tight end. It then added, "The strongside linebacker is also commonly known as the right outside linebacker (ROLB).

When they start talking weakside, strongside, LB nicknames and stuff there is some confusion. The article said "Early in the off-season the Steelers released veteran James Farrior and it was thought that Sylvester would possibly be a lock to back up veteran Larry Foote as the strong-side linebacker in 2012. [Okay, Larry Foote is the IRLB [strongside]??, but since Farrior is gone is not Foote penciled in now as his replacement? Anyway Sylvester saw his limited action in the LILB slot last year and that is not the strong side. Anyway, late in the article it is cleared???up???. It says, "Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert was asked about Sylvester last Thursday when OTA sessions wrapped up, and if he would compete with Foote for the starting BUCK position this season. [I took that as what is expected, Foote takes over for Farrior and since that is the 4th LB slot it could be called the BUCK. Of course there are a half dozen other names for that spot also. And if you like you can make up your own. The one I like is the JACK, which is valid, but I like to call that spot the CLUB or the HAMMER among other things. [If this is getting confusing, Good, that is its intent.]

Later on in the article it mentions the new guy Brandon Johnson and it says, "While Sylvester has made his mark on special teams, the recently signed Johnson is also known as a superb special teams player, and was even the special teams captain at one time when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson, while not regarded as a full-time starter type of player, has played both the strong-side and weak-side over the course of his career.

-----Johnson, has played both the strong-side and weak-side etc. [I took that to mean both the LOLB and the ROLB since that is how he is labeled. But, it could also mean that he has played the RILB which according to Wiki is the strong side ILB. Uh? This always could be very confusing until you see them play and then you know what there position is regardless of what they are calling them.

But, regardless of how anyone wants to read this LB situation,[or whatever they want to call them] the fact is there is plenty of work to do there and plenty of questions which will have to be resolved in the TC. I am getting the idea that the Steelers are not too thrilled with last years back up situation and probably will still bring in even more players there to compete.

BTW: I am still not convinced or sure which is the strong side or the weak side.

Slapstick
06-30-2012, 11:09 AM
In most cases, a single TE lines up outside of the RT...

Of course, with all of the various formations, it is just easier to think of the offense's right side as the strong side...it simply avoids confusion...

Again, the defense is the mirror image of the offense in regards to strong side and weak side...Woodley lines up on the offense's right side (the defense's left)...He is one of the heavier 3-4 OLBs in the NFL, so the Steelers line him up on the offense's strong side...

The Steelers front seven in the base defense line up like this (facing the offense):


Strong Side ----------Offense------------Weakside

-----------------Line of Scrimmage-------------------

Strong Side DE (Hood) - Nose Tackle (Hampton/McClendon) - Weak Side DE (Keisel)

SOLB (Woodley) - Buck aka SILB (Foote) - Mack aka WILB (TImmons) - WOLB (Harrison)

Slapstick
06-30-2012, 11:12 AM
In a 4-3 Base, it looks only a little different:

Strong Side ----------Offense------------Weakside

-----------------Line of Scrimmage-------------------

SDE DT DT WDE

SLB (Sam) MLB (Mike) WLB (Will)

Pops8
06-30-2012, 12:01 PM
BTW: I am still not convinced or sure which is the strong side or the weak side.

From a base formation, the SOLB (Sam) will line up on the defensive left in a 43 or 34. Will LB lines up on the defensive right. Mac is the Middle LB in a 43 and MAC and Buck are the ILB's in 34. That is the base and presnap doesn't really mean too terribly much. Historically, most QB's are right handed so most teams run right (the QB's natural field of vision). So, defenses called their Left (offensive right) the strong side. The Sam Backer was generally your most athletic player and best tackler so you put him on the side the offense was most likely to run. These terms are pretty standard, but by no means the only ones. I've seen lots of systems that use different labels.

When the offense comes to the line the defense immediately begins to dissect the situation and start their adjustments. One of the first things they look at is the strength of the offensive formation. There are some variations to how defenses declare offensive strength, but in general it will account for both running and passing strength. Finding an offense's formation strength helps determine the adjustments. Lets consider a very basic situation:

______FS_________$
C_______________________C
______W___M___
____E___T___T__E__S
X____T_G_C_G_T_Y
__________1_____________Z

I did a quick base 4-3 here. Notice Sam (S) is not 3 yards off the ball but rather on the line. That is because the offensive formation strength is to that side (determined in this case by the TE or Y. Of course, that can change based upon where the two backs I did not draw line up.) The DE will stay in his assigned Gap which is outside shoulder of the OT, but the TE creates another running lane so Sam moves to the line to defend the outside run and quite possibly cover the TE if he releases to pass pattern. It depends on the other receivers and the coverage call. Lets just keep it simple and deal with run - the addtional run lane outside Y is now defended by Sam on the line.

But what if:

______FS_________$
C_______________________C
______W___M___S
____E___T___T__E
___Y_T_G_C_G_T_________X
Z_________1

Since I was determining strength in this case by TE (Y), it is now on the offensive left. To the Defense, this is Will's side. Different defenses deal with this in different ways. One way would be to have Will come to the line like Sam did in the prior formation:

______FS_________$
C_______________________C
______M___S
__W_E___T___T__E
___Y_T_G_C_G_T_________X
Z_________1

This might well be acceptable if the wide side of the field is still to the offensive right. However, if the wide side of the field is to the offenses left, you might want your best tackler (Sam) on that side. So, you might choose to flip flop Sam and Will.

______FS_________$
C_______________________C
______M___W
__S_E___T___T__E
___Y_T_G_C_G_T_________X
Z_________1

Neither solution is right or wrong. It just depends on your personnel and philosophies. HS and College have more variation in athletic ability which is to say there may be a huge difference between Sam and Will's capabilities. That athletic difference isn't so prevalent in the NFL and for that (and a few other reasons) you don't see LB's flip sides.

These are basic examples to illustrate the point. It gets a lot more complex especially with the modern passing game. By way of example, consider:


X_______TGCGTY
___Z______1_____________H
__________2

Again, different defenses might classify the offensive strength differently in this case. I would say the run strength is to the offensive right due to Y. However, the passing strength is balanced because you have Twins on the left with X-Z and you have a Twins set on the right with Y-H. The tailback (2) is balanced. How will the defense adjust? Well, it depends on a lot of factors. If its third and long and the DC wants to just stop the big play, he may sit back in a coverage package. Since a 5 yard run would not hurt, he may drop Sam off the line so he can more easily drop into his pass coverage zone. (pass coverage really drives the complexity over run strength).

Okay, I've rambled on too much. Just remember Defensive and Offensive strength are not the same thing. Defensive names like Sam, Will, Mac, Buck are labels for player positions (I could just as easily call them Lenny, Laser, Razer, and Rino). Any defense worth a plug nickle will flex/adapt their formation to meet the offense. Defenses flex or change based on a lot of things such as their own capabilities, offensive strength, knowledge of the opposition, down and distance, defensive philosophy/coaching preference, etc, etc. The run and pass strength of the offense is one factor in determining how the defense will adjust before the snap. (aside: this is why offensive motion into being - it is trying to get the defense to show their coverage based upon how they adapt.)

Hopefully that helped clear up the question of strength.

RuthlessBurgher
06-30-2012, 03:03 PM
Baker was a starter at Will backer in LSU's 4-3 defense.

Johnson has experience at both Will and Sam in Cincinnati's 4-3 defense.

Those skill sets translate better to ILB's in our 3-4 rather than OLB's (where we'd be looking for undersized 4-3 DE's instead). Both players will have more of an impact on special teams than on defense anyway if, of course, they even manage to make the team.