Mark Robinson is at the front of the line for inside linebacker reps following the season-ending injuries to both Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander in back-to-back weeks. Coming into this season, and before the room was overhauled by GM Omar Kahn, it seemed like Robinson had a chance to earn the starting role. He entered Week Ten with just four defensive snaps, but ended up playing full-time next to Elandon Roberts after Alexander’s injury. He logged 41 defensive snaps and made three tackles. He will be playing a lot more down the stretch of this season, so it is time to take a look at how he did in Week Ten.
On the first play of this clip there is some good and some bad. His play strength is evident as he was able to blow back the pulling tackle. That is a 305-pound offensive lineman and he not only held his ground, but generated some push of his own. The downside is, he ran right into the block instead of tackling the ball carrier. Patrick Peterson followed the receiver in motion, so Robinson was the last line of defense on the edge. This 40-yard run by AJ Dillon was one of the Packer’s biggest plays of the day on offense and could have been stopped at the line. Robinson seeked out contact which can be a good thing, but he has to be disciplined to keep his eyes on the ball carrier.
On the second play of the clip, seeking out contact worked to his advantage as he was able to stand up the tight end trying to block him and throw his body into the pile to combine for a tackle.
Robinson is listed at 235 pounds, but his closing speed stood out on multiple plays. This play was a toss run to the outside where he beat RB Aaron Jones to the edge for a minimal gain. He took a decisive angle and dove to secure the tackle. He doesn’t have sideline-to-sideline speed, but moves pretty well for his size and finished well on this play.
This play looked just like a linebacker drill in practice. He kept his eyes in the backfield and stayed in phase with the running back so he could be in position in case of a cut-back. Once the running back committed outside, Robinson closed and wrapped up to make the tackle for a short gain.
One of the big things the Steelers lost with Alexander and Holcomb was their coverage abilities. They were both every-down linebackers and capable of staying on the field in any situation. While coverage is not Robinson’s calling card, he showed the ability on this play to stay in phase with a running back’s route. RB Emanuel Wilson ran a wheel route into the end zone and Robinson stayed right on his hip all the way until the end of the play.
One thing I thought he could do better in the passing game was help reroute receivers off the line. On both of these plays, he was in position to jam receivers inside the legal five-yard limit, but did not make any contact. He had a man assignment of his own in both cases, but had a bit of tunnel vision to his man. On the first play, Jayden Reed ran right by him and Robinson actively avoided contact. Reed went on to catch the touchdown in the end zone blowing right by Keanu Neal and Levi Wallace. A reroute could have helped throw off the timing.
On the second play, he cut in between Damontae Kazee and the receiver he was trying to cover, Romeo Doubs. He effectively did reroute, but nearly set a pick to break Doubs wide open. The middle of the field was completely vacated and if Doubs flattened out his route instead of driving further upfield, he could have had a ton of separation from Kazee.
Mark Robinson played 60% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps on Sunday and had a solid showing overall. He got to his landmarks in coverage and showed off surprising closing speed for a linebacker his size. His physicality was evident against the run, but he sometimes seeked out contact and got himself blocked as a result. The rest of this season will show a lot about his future with the team and the future of the inside linebacker room in Pittsburgh.