Mike Tomlin has them getting after it this preseason, which is good. The offensive line looks much improved, which is key.
First of all, let me just state that last week I went into great detail as to why the Steelers project to be a “mystery yet middle-of-the-pack” team in 2013. With that in mind, I really have no issue with Pete Prisco ranking Pittsburgh at number 17 overall.
In fact, one could make a strong case to drop the Steelers out of the “teens” and into the “twenties” when one takes into account how undisciplined their collective play has been during the preseason’s first two games. I do however wonder what Prisco meant by “The offensive line looks much improved, which is key.”
I hate to break it to Prisco, but Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been “inconsistent at best” through their first two preseason contests. Take for instance what transpired during last night’s 24-13 loss to Washington with their projected starting five.
On their first drive, the offensive line couldn’t open up enough holes for Le’Veon “Glass” Bell to even gain 10 yards before he exited with a foot injury. While the run blocking improved throughout the night as Jonathan Dwyer ran for 68 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per carry, the play from the tackle positions left much to be desired.
Right tackle Marcus Gilbert gave a “half-assed-at best” effort both before and after Ryan Kerrigan made a pick-six against Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter. Not to be outdone, Mike Adams was called for two penalties (illegal formation and holding) on the night and struggled in pass-protection as well.
Unfortunately, the issues were not relegated to the edges last night either. Although David DeCastro has looked much improved, his bone-headed holding penalty could have cost the team had Big Ben not found Antonio Brown for 20 yards on the very next play. Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster also had their fair share of issues too, and the center was flagged for an illegal hands to the face penalty during the second quarter.
I for one have some high hopes for Pittsburgh’s offensive line this fall, but last night’s collective effort did not inspire a large amount of faith. The Steelers’ offense will suffer enough with Heath Miller sidelined for a good chunk of this season and Mike Wallace in Miami. A shoddy and inconsistent offensive line is the last thing that Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger need to worry about this fall.
Part of me wants to say, “Don’t worry, they’re switching blocking schemes and all will be well before the regular season begins.” I just cannot ignore how inept the starters and backups looked last night against the Redskins.
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