If somebody told me a month ago that the Pittsburgh Steelers would emerge victorious in a game against the Baltimore Ravens with Kelvin Beachum and Guy Whimper as their first-team offensive tackles, I would have thought that they were crazy.
Yet in their most crucial game of the 2013 regular season, the Steelers had to turn to those two offensive linemen and both responded in a huge way during Pittsburgh’s 19-16 victory. In fact, Beachum and Whimper played well enough against Baltimore to deserve to start next week’s game against the Oakland Raiders and possibly the final 10 games of the 2013 regular season.
I was most impressed with Beachum and his play on the blind-side. Although Terrell Suggs took advantage of it at times, the former S.M.U. Mustang’s lack of strength and smaller frame at times, Beachum held his own at left tackle and provided some solid effort as a run-blocker. While the second-year offensive lineman might be better suited to play elsewhere along the offensive line as his career progresses, he is the team’s best option at left tackle for the rest of this current regular season.
As far as Whimper was concerned, he was not “chopped liver” at the right tackle spot against the Ravens either. After riding the pine for the entirety of the 2013 season, the veteran stepped in during the first quarter and largely held Elvis Dumervil at bay in pass-protection. Whimper performed well enough in this game as a run-blocker to warrant serious consideration for more playing time, and that is not a good sign for the injured Marcus Gilbert and under-performing Mike Adams.
Behind the competent play of their tackles and the rest of their offensive line, Pittsburgh totaled 141 rushing yards against Baltimore’s stout run defense. In addition, Whimper and Beachum were only responsible for 1.5 of the team’s 3.0 sacks this evening. This of course was the biggest positive to see, especially with Suggs and Dumervil crashing the edges against “Big Ben.”
I will be interested to see how the playing time is divided up over the final 10 games of the regular season, particularly at the right tackle position where Whimper threw his hat into the ring this evening for more playing time in the future. Regardless of who starts down the stretch, I just hope that the Steelers can cobble together a serviceable enough offensive line to finish the 2013 campaign in strong fashion.
While better options can and likely be found at both spots during the upcoming offseason, the Steelers’ best chance to win games this fall could very well come with those two, instead of Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams, starting at the left and right tackle spots.
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