Steelers Film Room: Can Steve McLendon Be a Three-Down Nose Tackle?

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Final Thoughts:

December 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Steve McLendon (90) reacts to a defensive play against the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Cincinnati Bengals won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Since coming to the Steelers as originally a member of their practice squad in 2009, McLendon has made huge steps. This next season, McLendon looks to fill one of the biggest voids in the Steelers defense in over a decade.

Steve McLendon has been waiting for this moment as he was quoted saying:

“You don’t come out here just to be a secondary guy,” McLendon said. “You come out here to be the greatest. That’s how I look at it.”

After watching McLendon’s film, I can attest to the fact that he is ready for his chance to be a dominant nose tackle for the Steelers. He possesses all the traits needed to fill this void, and I believe that he can not only fill it, he could make an even greater impact.

If he is going to be a dominant player in this league for years to come, McLendon knows mentally what it will take, as he was quoted saying:

“I changed my whole way of thinking this year,” McLendon said. “I’m no longer saying, ‘Good.’ I’m saying, ‘Great,’ because if you speak greatness, then greatness is going to come.”

After an 8-8 season, and loosing Casey Hampton, the Steelers need greatness to come from Steve McLendon. I have no doubt in my mind that greatness is exactly what Steve McLendon will bring.

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  • Dom DiTolla

    Solid post once again, Nick. I really like when you do the picture & still-photos of film breakdowns.

    I also have high hopes for McLendon this fall. Seems like he is geeked up to finally play full-time, and he has received nothing but high praise from Mitchell & Big Snack while he has developed over the last few seasons.

  • Marc Thomas

    sorry, but this post sucks. first of all, you’re a full yard off on the line of scrimmage. mclendon is not “2-3 yards up the field” as you put, but rather at the line of scrimmage and barely engaging the center (mangold) at that point in your post. finally, sanchez blew the call by not audibling to run to the other side. before the play even starts it’s clear the steelers have overloading the one side, yet the jets run right into it. easy play for the steelers.
    if sanchez audibles to the other side, the center and right guard combo block mclendon (easily because of how he is lined up) with mangold sliding up field to seal off timmons which leaves 3 blockers on 3 steelers and greene picking his hole.

    • Nick Kelly

      Interesting take, but I’m not sure what your definition of “overloaded” is, but from the way I count, on the left side, you have Woodley and Hood, and on the right side you have Carter at OLB and Heyward at DE, with Timmons lined up on the right guard and Foote lined up on the left guard. The only difference is, Steve McLendon is slightly shaded to the left side of the center. If you want to talk about overloaded, the JETS have an extra man on both sides. The reason the Jets had a three yard loss is not because it was an “easy play” for the Steelers. It was anything but easy for the Steelers. The only reason it worked for the Steelers was because of the strength and athleticism of McLendon, as well as his ability to take the double team. Mangold is expected to make that block, and McLendon is lined up there on purpose because the tight end is on that side. Thanks for stating your opinion but I stand by my analysis, and I suggest you look more closely at the film before you decide to comment next time.

      • Marc Thomas

        Not sure what you are looking at. Mclendon is almost lined up over the guard and his stance is such that Mangold’s reach block is nearly impossible. What double team? Mclendon is not engaged by the guard until they are outside the opposite hash marks. Actually, the guard isn’t even looking at him until he realizes he doesn’t have anyone to block! By the way, nice to see Hood get stood-up by a TE, bum. The real succes here is Woodley holding the edge and forcing the RB to look elsewhere, Timmons had a “lay-up” for a tackle. Like I said before, Sanchez blew it by not audibling the run play to the other side. Mclendon would be an easy combo block because of how he is lined up and Mangold could then slide up field to seal off Timmons. That leaves a hat-on-a-hat for the rest of the Jet’s blockers and the RB would have room to run.

        • Nick Kelly

          Do you watch the Steelers defense? The nose is always shaded to one side of the center. Not sure why you think he is lined up over the guard. And you say that Mangold’s reach block is near impossible, thats why McLendon is lined up like that. It’s very difficult to block. Also the guard did have someone to block, McLendon, because it is his responsibility to take any one in his zone, hence the term zone blocking. Say Sanchez did audible to the other side, it wouldn’t have made a difference because the Steelers defense would know what would be going on. In that case, McLendon would have angled on the other side. It’s not as simple as you make it sound to just “audible to the other side.” You can’t argue with the fact that McLendon forced the double team because he ended up having to be blocked by two blockers, freeing up Timmons. While you may think its a given Timmons tackled him, no tackle is ever a given. I can respect where you are coming from, but you make some of these things such as easily switching to the other side, or that Timmons making the tackle was a given. Thanks for commenting!

          • Marc Thomas

            Clearly, you do not pay attention to what is written in my posts or illustrated in your still shots. You are incorrectly repeating what I have said, your line of scrimmage is wrong, your red blocking arrows are wrong, you appear to be ignoring what the players are actually doing in the play, your complete diagnosis of the play is wrong. This play was doomed from the start because of the Steeler’s alignment and basic execution. But, for some reason, you are trying to prop up Mclendon. I don’t know why, maybe he’s your favorite player or something, but he’s an average NT. Do you want to know why – because old, broken down Casey Hampton started over him, that’s why. I love Hampton, one of the best ever in my opinion, but he was at the end of his rope last season and Mclendon still couldn’t win the job. I hope Mclendon comes out and plays well this year, but he’s no stud, that’s for sure.