As most of us already know, Mark Madden of 105.9 The X can be crass and controversial at times with his views on Pittsburgh’s sports teams. Nevertheless, the radio personality and columnist for the Beaver County-Times recently raised an interesting question regarding this weekend’s game in Oakland:
Should Guy Whimper start at right tackle regardless of the status of Marcus Gilbert’s injured quadriceps?
Madden seems to believe that Whimper should start regardless of whether or not Gilbert is healthy, and I for one am inclined to agree with him after the way Whimper handled Elvis Dumervil last weekend. Furthermore, the inconsistent nature of Gilbert’s play this fall has left much to be desired from the third year tackle as well.
If the Steelers wish to salvage their 2013 season and want to “nut up” down the stretch, ideas like and “playing for next year” should not cross their minds. Gilbert has had two-plus seasons to develop and win a full-time starting gig at both tackle spots, yet he has still failed to inspire much hope as of late.
If Whimper illustrates that he can play as consistently as he did against Baltimore, then there should be no question that he should start against Oakland. Moreover, another strong outing should allow him a legitimate shot to unseat Gilbert for the starting gig on the right side for the rest of the regular season.
Oddly enough, Pittsburgh’s offense enjoyed their best performance of the 2013 regular season with Kelvin Beachum manning the left tackle spot and Whimper lined up at right tackle. Even though Beachum is smaller-framed (6’3″ 303 lbs.) and Whimper was an utter turnstile during his stint in Jacksonville, each turned in a solid performance at their respective positions.
The Steelers’ offensive line helped to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright for much of the evening, and Pittsburgh’s quarterback looked as confident as ever in the pocket against Baltimore. Something I might add which Gilbert and Adams both failed to do during their time this season as “Big Ben’s Bookends” during the team’s 0-4 start.
As crazy as it sounds, I actually believe that it would be a tremendous positive for this team if the coaching staff turned up the heat on Gilbert like they did for Mike Adams two weeks ago.
Gilbert, as well as Adams, were essentially handed starting gigs during their first two seasons in the league due to injuries at their respective positions (Willie Colon in 2011, and Gilbert back in 2012). Neither player won their jobs necessarily “outright,” and Max Starks was signed off of the street last season because he gave this team their best chance to win at the left tackle position.
If the two second round picks want to start, then that is terrific for them and this franchise. Yet they should have to beat out Beachum and Whimper to earn those starting jobs. If they are unable to win a starting gig over a player who is better suited to play guard or center (Beachum) or another who the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars deemed expendable (Whimper), then maybe the Steelers are simply better off moving forward without either player.
In the event that Whimper or Beachum struggles, then the team can turn to Adams or Gilbert to pick up the slack. At this point though, Pittsburgh and their signal-caller are better off with the offensive tackles who have illustrated that they can play at a competent enough level on Sundays before they can adequately address those “positional issues” during the spring.
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