I am sure that Pittsburgh’s offensive linemen would admit that their play was anything but “up to par” last weekend against the Tennessee Titans.
Then again, I’m not sure any offensive line would claim that they played collectively well with the type of offensive output the Steelers put on display on opening day.
The running game was essentially non-existent, and the Steelers only gained 32 yards on the ground. While running backs like Isaac Redman, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and Felix Jones are not exactly “competent” options for any team to turn to on a consistent basis, they were not exactly afforded the types of holes and running room by their teammates in the trenches.
As far as the Steelers’ pass-protection was concerned, their offensive line allowed too much pocket-collapse and a total of five sacks on the afternoon. As a whole, Pittsburgh’s offense only scored seven points, and that came on a “garbage time” touchdown on a drive in which the Titans’ defense played prevent and soft zone.
Overall, the Steelers accumulated less than 200 yards of total offense against Tennessee. As pathetic as that statistic is, what was even worse was the fact that Pittsburgh’s offense only ventured past the 50 yard line and into Titan territory twice during the entire game! The biggest “football to the groin” for this group happened when Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the season due to the knee injury he sustained in the second quarter.
Unfortunately for the Steelers’ offensive line, their jobs will only be more challenging tomorrow night when they take on the stout defense of the Cincinnati Bengals. It also does not help that the Bengals possess one of the most talented and stout defensive lines in the entire league.
Dealing with All-Pro Geno Atkins and the gap-clogging Domata Peko on the inside would be difficult enough for this group to deal with tomorrow night. Pittsburgh’s tackles must also withstand the pass-rushing onslaught of Cincinnati’s defensive end rotation led by Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson as well.
As disadvantaged as I believe the Steelers’ offensive line will be against the Bengals’ terrific defensive line and defense overall, they will still have to find ways to protect “Big Ben” and help their offense put points on the scoreboard tomorrow evening. With as much attention being paid to their pathetic play from last weekend though, the chance still exists for Pittsburgh’s heavily criticized offensive line to make a statement against a superior opponent.
Granted, the task at hand at Paul Brown Stadium will be anything but “easy” for the Steelers’ weakest unit to accomplish.
Cincinnati’s defensive line will be the best and most formidable that Pittsburgh’s offense and offensive line will face throughout the course of the 2013 regular season. Nevertheless, tomorrow’s game could provide the perfect opportunity for Pittsburgh’s much-maligned offensive line to make a statement that they are capable of performing against some of the league’s best on the biggest stage.
Thus, it will be up to Mike Adams, Ramon Foster, the newly-inked Fernando Velasco, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, and Kelvin Beachum to “nut-up,” rally together, and try to stick it to their critics and the Bengals.
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