There’s not a lot they [offensive line] can do at this point. We’ve seen this [improved play] a lot in the past where lines start out shaky and they come together. Well, this one hasn’t had time to come together, … There hasn’t been time for those guys to play long enough together. Not a lot they can do!
Continuity is key for any offensive line to gel and develop into a competent unit, and I for one agree with Bouchtte’s take on the Pittsburgh’s group in the offensive trenches.
Problems with injuries and poor play have ravaged this line this fall, and the effect has been noticeable to anyone with 20-20 eyesight. In fact, we could only see more struggling down the stretch if David DeCastro misses any time due to his recent ankle injury.
The Steelers have a guy better suited to play guard or center manning the left tackle spot in the form of Kelvin Beachum, their supposedly “bookend” tackles, Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams, have lost playing time due to injuries or poor play, Levi Brown was sidelined with a triceps injury before he even played a down, Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year due to a knee injury on opening day, and Ramon Foster has missed bits and pieces of games against the Vikings and Raiders with pectoral and head issues.
Although Fernando Velasco’s emergence as a competent center has been a pleasant surprise, he is still gelling with the rest of his interchangeable teammates up front. And while I hate to be a “Negative Nancy,” the soon-to-be free agent Velasco could head elsewhere this offseason if another team offers him a starting job and/or a more lucrative contract.
As sad as it sounds right now, if Guy Whimper, Foster, or DeCastro miss any extended time, the Steelers will be forced to look to career-backup Cody Wallace or one of their “practice squadders” (Joe Long or Chris Hubbard) for help with depth.
With so much personnel turnover, it is no wonder why Ben Roethlisberger is on pace to be sacked a career-number of times. In addition, it is no wonder why Le’Veon Bell and the rest of Pittsburgh’s backs have looked so ineffective running the football. Of course, one cannot expect much from a running back like Bell who lacks the type of speed to break runs of over 15 yards or have any extended success at the professional level as a “feature back.”
Thoughts on Bell aside, Bouchette is correct in his assessment that the amount of turnover which this unit has already undergone this year sets the stage for more struggles over the team’s final nine regular season games.
I just hope that Pittsburgh’s franchise quarterback can make it through more of the bludgeoning which he is sure to endure down the stretch.
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