Over the last half decade there has arguably been no group of players more publicly criticized than the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Offensive Line. And don’t get me wrong, this aforementioned criticism is not without merit. The Steelers have continually ranked at the top of the League in sacks allowed and at the bottom of the League in Rush Y.P.C. over the last 5-7 years, and are continually disparaged by pundits like the N.F.L. Network’s morbidly obese manatee Jamie Dukes.
The 2011 season has seen much of the same shoddy play from this group, and they have struggled mightily against good (Baltimore) and bad (Seattle) opponents alike. Their dysfunctional play has taken points off of the scoreboard, and has almost cost their team its Starting Quarterback due to injury. Nevertheless, I would like to at least defend the boys up front against those that would like to place the full of blame of the Steelers’ offensive woes solely upon them. In this article I intend to argue that both the Front Office and Bruce Arians’ playcalling/decision-making are equally if not more to blame for the Steelers’ Offensive struggles than the constantly ridiculed Offensive Line. In addition, I have added specific things/plays that Arians’ and the Steelers should consider doing/calling to remedy their Offensive ills. So hit the “More” button if you are at all intrigued by my nonsensical ramblings and arguments:
The Offensive Line, Their Struggles, and The Front Office
Before I begin playing the blame game and how to solve the Steelers’ Offensive woes, let me be perfectly clear as to why the Line shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame: they’re freaking terrible to begin with, and everybody knows it! Outside of Pro Bowl Center Maurkice Pouncey and 2011 2nd Round Draft Pick Marcus Gilbert (who I think can develop into another Marvel Smith versatile type Tackle that can play either spot), there isn’t a whole hell of a lot of talent for Offensive Line Coach Sean Kugler to work with in the Steel City.
I personally and honestly can’t blame guys like Willie Colon, Jonathan Scott, Chris Kemoeatu, Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster, and Trai Essex for turning in sub-par performances week after week, because they’re simply just sub-par players, at best! Each of these guys I’ve listed above wouldn’t be able to crack the starting lineup on at least 25 of the League’s teams (I’d say about 20 for Colon because he’s only slightly awful), so it’s no freakin wonder why the Offensive Line is thought to be a weak link and on the verge of shambles. Plus you factor in the lack of cohesion and the constant shuttling of players due to injury and ineffective play, it’s no wonder that these guys struggle as a group.
Sure, we in Steeler Nation can bag on their putrid play as a unit all we want, but seriously folks how about we redirect at least some of our negativity towards Colbert and the F.O. for not spending the big bucks in Free Agency on the Offensive Line like Craig alluded to earlier in the week. They’ve got oodles of cash ready to throw at the most overrated player in the N.F.L. and the most replaceable player on the Defense in the form of OLB LaMarr Woodley. But they can’t take a small fraction of that $61.5 million they gave to Woodley and find a serviceable veteran Guard or Tackle in Free Agency to shore up their well-below average Offensive Line? Give me a freakin break!
They Steelers could have had two or three solid O-Linemen for the price of Woodley. Does your team’s #3 pass rusher who accumulates a large amount of his sacks because of 2008 D.P.O.Y. and Pro Bowler James Harrison being on the other side of him really deserve that kind of money when he could have been franchised for 1 year at $45 mil. total less, while Worilds and Carter developed and waited? Does he really deserve that kind of money when the $100 million dollar QB is getting constantly planted because his Offensive Line can’t protect him worth a damn because the F.O. won’t spend any money at those positions (except on the craptacular Willie Colon. How the hell that guy got paid is still a mystery to me)?
Despite my misgivings about the F.O.’s careless spending, there is another person that should also shoulder most of the blame for this mess known as the Steelers’ Offense and the ever-blazing dumpster fire known as the Steelers’ Offensive Line. It is solely up to him regarding whether or not he wants to continue down the current path, or blaze a new trail of success for this team: