Last Sunday there wasn’t a lot to be disappointed with. The Seahawks came to Pittsburgh and the Steelers responded to week one’s disaster by shutting out their opponent. All that being said, the Seahawks are a disaster of a team, and not much can be read into this win. Based on the way the Seahawks played, that score should have been 45-0, not 24-0. The total domination of an opponent was a fun thing to watch as a fan, but this really doesn’t tell us what kind of shape the Steelers are in right now. Are they a top-tier team after being blown out by the Ravens and then beating the Seahawks, or are they just middle of the road? Are they too old to compete with the really hot teams in the league right now?
Short answer is, we don’t know. There is simply not enough evidence to tell whether the Steelers will be able to compete at a really high level this season. A shutout does great for confidence levels of the team, but after “being humbled” the way we were against the Ravens, I am going to need to see more than a win against the hapless Seahawks before I start chanting “I got a feelin.” The Steelers still have lots to prove. One of the most important areas upon which the Steelers will need to improve if they want to be competitive, is the offensive line.
I’m I can’t really put in to words just how bad our offensive line is. Ask any great football mind and they will tell you that the #1 thing an offensive line needs is continuity in order to be successful. The Center needs to be able to trust his tackles, and the other guys on the line and so on. If they can’t trust each other, defenses will destroy our offensive line. This year alone the Steelers’ offensive line has undergone major changes from game to game, not to mention the changes from last year to this year. The most important thing that the Steelers can do right now is just leave the same guys in and let them build up somewhat of a unit.
Even an offensive line with suspect individual skills and or experience can function on at least a mediocre level if given the opportunity to get used to playing with one other. Trust on the offensive line means Roethlisberger will begin to trust the line and stand in the pocket longer, make more accurate throws, and even have more time to throw the ball to the proper spot on the field. One of the things that I have noticed with Roethlisberger’s playing thus far this season is his sometimes crazy inaccuracy when throwing the ball. There are times when Ben will hit a hot streak and complete seven or eight passes in a row, but will then sky a ball to Heath by ten yards and it will be picked (or nearly picked) by the opposing team.
Why does this happen? Well, when your offensive line can’t even hold a block for a second, or two seconds, you are forced to either throw the ball on the run, or throw the ball in a hurry (or both), causing those throws to be inaccurate. There was a screen pass Sunday where Ben literally took one step back from the line and threw the ball to Mike Wallace and was hit by the opposing team. The Offensive line is SO bad they can’t even hold a block long enough for Ben to throw a screen pass. A SCREEN PASS! Seriously, this is a big problem.
But, there is an upside. Now that is seems that the players in there won’t be getting injured every other week, this line may actually have a chance to build something up. Gilbert will continue to develop in the starting roll, as will Legursky, and if Pouncey can continue to be a great leader at Center, Big Ben may have a chance to take a shot down the field every now and then, and maybe even do it from the center of the pocket.
If that doesn’t start to happen, or the Steelers don’t do something to MAKE that happen, we’re going to be seeing Batch or Dixon in there a lot more than we’d like. Big Ben will continue to get hit with increasing frequency and his season and/or career will be over before we know it. Even Ben isn’t immune to an ass beating.
So. Where do we go from here? Well, we come out and kick Indy’s ass the same way we beat up on the Seahawks. In fact, we should beat Indy even worse. These are two incredibly bad teams in a row, so I suppose you can expect a similar article from me next week. The Steelers still have so much to prove, and until they beat a good team convincingly (ie Ravens, Patriots etc) I’m not going to be much of a believer in the longevity of this team/season. In my opinion, that all starts and ends with the O line. The run game will not work without a competent O line, and Ben won’t be able to throw to this scary core of wide outs either. The defense has their own set of issues, but coming off of a shutout, I’ll save it for another article.
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