With Burfict’s run-stuffing ability, instincts and overall seemingly better attitude, he will likely take over from Maualuga at middle linebacker next season. Especially with his skill set, Burfict should not be at the Will linebacker. Nothing against Burfict, but they need a speedy backer like Thomas Howard, as shown on this pass play.
The outside linebacker is responsible for the hook route on the outside in zone coverage. Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels criticized Terence Newman for this play, and he should have sunk deeper in coverage, but the outside hook is Burfict’s responsibility. He is breaking towards Antonio Brown, but he does not have the closing speed that a Will backer needs and Roethlisberger repeatedly took advantage of this.
Both units have many holes to fill, and the offense needs a shot in the arm strategy-wise, but this is a team that is performing about like many expected. Finishing .500 was about the best to be expected and that is still achievable, but a learning experience this season and a bounty of draft picks in this spring’s draft class, deep with running backs and pass rushers can go a long way for a team some good, young pieces.