The Buffalo Bills signed former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich a few weeks ago. Matakevich was primarily a special teams player during his time in Pittsburgh, but he expressed interest in playing defense in an interview with Chris Adamski of TribLive back in January. Whether he’ll have that opportunity or not in Buffalo is yet to be seen.
Speaking of interviews, we reached out to Jeff Hartman, editor of Behind the Steel Curtain, for his opinions on Matakevich as a player.
What was/were Matakevich’s role(s) on the special teams unit?
“Matakevich was an interior player on the return teams, and had a nose for knifing through the line and getting his hands on the football. He also was tied for the league lead in special teams tackles, ironically, with Derek Watt, who the Steelers added in free agency.”
What does Matakevich do well? What does he do poorly?
“Matakevich is a tackler. Always has been, always will be. But what he does well with tackling, he lacks in speed and athleticism. The Temple product can tackle with the best of them, but when it comes to covering running backs or tight ends in space, he gets abused early and often. He just isn’t anywhere near an every down linebacker in the NFL, not in today’s game.”
Was Matakevich a player that Steelers fans wanted to see re-signed?
“Most fans were okay letting Matakevich walk. He was nothing more than a special teams player, and he wasn’t even viewed as quality depth at inside linebacker anymore. Fans liked Matakevich, but just assumed he would find a new home elsewhere. What no one predicted was how he would get the deal he got with Buffalo.”
Was there anything about Matakevich’s skill set that makes you think he could fill a role on defense, or is he stuck as a special teams-only guy?
“He could be used as a goal line defender due to his solid tackling and not having to cover space, but he also could be used in specific sub packages designed to stop the run. Unfortunately, that is about all he is capable of at this point in his career. Other than that, he is a special teams ace, and could become a special teams captain for the Bills.”
Thank you to Jeff for his answers to our questions!