In my humble opinion, Jack Bicknell, Jr. received a raw deal from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Make no mistake, Pittsburgh’s offensive line was a far from outstanding unit during Bicknell, Jr.’s first and only season with the franchise. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 43 times, the ground attack ranked tied for 27th in league in rushing yards and the Steelers offense finished 29th in yards per carry.
Yet the fact that Bicknell, Jr. was fired after only one season with the team is simply short-sighted and ridiculous.
Remember, Bicknell, Jr. inherited one of the league’s youngest offensive lines when he was hired by the Steelers. Ramon Foster was the oldest starting member at 27, and he had yet to play an entire professional season at the left guard spot. Right guard David DeCastro only had three career starts under his belt, Mike Adams had not started a professional game at left tackle and Marcus Gilbert was injured for much of the 2011 campaign.
Disaster then struck on the opening weekend of the regular season when All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year after less than a quarter of play. Due to injuries, Bicknell, Jr. had to use a total of four centers throughout the 2013 regular season in the forms of Pouncey, Kelvin Beachum, Fernando Velasco and Cody Wallace! Heck, Bicknell, Jr. was forced to put veteran tackle Guy Whimper in his starting lineup at guard on multiple occasions!
As much as the unit struggled during the early stages of the 2013 campaign, the offensive line played better down the stretch. Roethlisberger was better protected, and Le’Veon Bell had much more room to run during the Steelers’ 6-2 finish to the regular season. Bicknell, Jr. did the best with what he had at his disposal, and the fact that he was axed after only one season on the job is a complete and utter joke.
Why the team threw Bicknell, Jr. under the bus over other coaches on this staff who have become beacons of mediocrity in recent seasons is a joke. Sadly, I guess that Pittsburgh’s brass felt like their former offensive line coach could be an easy scapegoat for their second consecutive postseason-less season. To them it apparently makes more sense than making tough moves and holding actual people accountable for their actions over more than a one year period.
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