When you talk about being a student of the game, you might not find a better example than Jonathan Bostic.
Bostic prides himself on his football IQ, something that came from his dad and not because of football, but because of the importance of education.
Bostic's dad, John Bostic, played three seasons for the Detroit Lions. And like most dads, he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. But, not necessarily his football footsteps. After his playing days ended, John Bostic went on to get his Ph.D. and the biggest thing he stressed to his son was getting an education. Bostic knew education was a key and for him that focus has carried over to the football field.
Bostic, who finished second on the defense with 73 tackles while adding two and half sacks and four quarterback hurries last year, knows being physical is a key for any linebacker. He also knows being intelligent is equally, if not more, important.
"I think the days of putting people on the field because they are athletic is out the window," said Bostic. "Offenses have it down to a science. They understand if a guy is in coverage, if he is covered, if they throw the ball to the back of your head it's going to be a catch or pass interference. When you have 11 guys on defense that understand football, understand the situation you are in that is how you are able to win more third downs, have those fourth and short situations, by not getting beat to the flat.
"It's about understanding football as a whole. It's not going to come in your first year. It's not going to come in your second year. You have to have those veterans around to teach you those things. The way that football is set up now we don't have a lot of time in the classroom the way it was 5,10 or 15 years ago because the way the collective bargaining agreement is set up. You don't have as much time to do as much. It's about understanding that stuff."
Bostic signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent last offseason after spending the first five years of his career with Chicago (2013-14), New England (2015), Detroit (2016 on injured reserve) and Indianapolis (2017). He said he enjoyed his first season in the black and gold and grew in new areas.
"I blitzed a lot more than I ever have," said Bostic. "I was always the cover guy. I never blitzed that much. In the defenses we ran in the past, I didn't blitz much. That was new for me. Now heading into my second year here, it's getting them to understand me even more as a player, how I think, how I play and how I can help the defense.
"For me, I am willing to do whatever is asked. Whatever we have to do to win I am down for it. I like to play fast, play physical. That is what it comes down to."