It is more than safe to assume that Ben Roethlisberger wants to see his young offensive linemen show signs of improvement in the near future.
In fact, “Big Ben” expressed the desire to see his offensive linemen play with more “nastiness,” “toughness,” and “confidence” before the Bears game last Sunday. When he was asked to elaborate on what he said to his linemen in a recent interview, Ben replied with the following (via Steelers.com):
Yes, just go out and play. Be tough, be nasty. If you have to get a penalty because you’re going to be nasty, a holding penalty, or you’re going to choke someone out on a run play – I don’t think that’s always a bad thing to get a penalty every once in a while because you’re playing tough and nasty, as compared to not getting any penalties and just being passive. It’s a fine line. I know that the offensive line coach probably didn’t want to hear me say that, but I just want them to have the confidence to go out and play the way that I know that they can, the way that they know they can.
As poorly as the Steelers’ offensive linemen have collectively played during the first three regular season games, it is nice to see that the team’s signal-caller has confidence in the group of youngsters who have struggled so mightily to protect him.
Pittsburgh has surrendered 10 sacks through their first three games, and the constant pressure and pocket collapse has been extremely detrimental to Roethlisbgerer. If their current pace keeps up, “Big Ben” could be sacked over 50 times by the time the regular season is finished. Of course, that assumes Roethlieberger will actually make it through the entirety of the 2013 campaign without missing any games.
While their pass-blocking woes are problematic enough, Pittsburgh’s offensive line has had their fair share of issues kick-starting the run this fall to boot. In fact, the Steelers’ running game ranks 31st in total rushing yards, 28th in rushing yards per carry, and the team has yet to record a rushing touchdown!
Although some of the blame can be placed on the fact that Pittsburgh’s running back rotation is “mediocre” at best, Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones, and Isaac Redman have not seen many open running lanes to burst through during the team’s first three games either.
Right now, it is simply “nut up or shut up” time for Pittsburgh’s young offensive linemen. Thus, I hope that they can take Roethlisberger’s constructive criticism to heart. Instead of “lolleygaging” and settling for mediocrity while their Pro Bowl signal-caller runs for his life on a weekly basis, every member of this unit needs to channel their “inner Alan Faneca.”
The team’s highly touted youngsters like Mike Adams, Marcus Gilbert, and David DeCastro, have yet to truly establish themselves due to injuries and inconsistent play, and it will be up to them to prove their naysayers wrong with their collective performance on the field.
The clock is unfortunately ticking on Pittsburgh’s offensive line, and the front office will be more than willing to find replacements during the next couple of offseasons if the current starters are unable to improve and display a “nasty” demeanor on the field.
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