The Offensive Line for the Steelers was not the sole reason they lost to the Denver Broncos 31-19 on Sunday night, there was plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the ball. Every year though we have this conversation about our Steelers, the offensive line this, the offensive line that, it’s well beyond the “getting old” stage and seems to be bordering on some vendetta that that football gods have against Pittsburgh.
If you are Mike Tomlin, it would seem that you content on playing with fire each week, each passing year, with no end in sight. How much longer until he really gets burned? The coaches have have got to consider the thought of dressing more offensive lineman each week. If that means sacrificing another position, which it would, then so be it. They may not have a choice but to do so at some point sooner rather than later.
Pittsburgh normally keeps 7 active lineman on the gameday roster (occasionally 8) and that scenario nearly bit them again when RG Ramon Foster went down in the first half with an eye injury, and RT Marcus Gilbert left with a hyper extended knee. Neither player was able to return, so utility man Doug Legurksy and rookie Mike Adams were thrust into action. At that point there wasn’t much left had another player gone down. Now you know why Sean Kugler, Offensive Line coach, is bald; he couldn’t possibly have any hair left after trying to get his guys ready each week.
The Steelers can’t keep 5 healthy guys together for 1 game, let alone a whole season. It’s the same old song and dance every year I know, but I’m really getting tired of this tune personally. Activating any additional lineman isn’t the end all be all fix, and it’s not as if the talent level would be equal to the starters, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. One of these days we’re going to see Heath Miller come in at Tackle because every other available body is on the bench or in the locker room.
Roethlisberger was sacked 5 times, 3 of those came late in the game when the Steelers were trying to mount a comeback. Does that scenario change if Foster and Gilbert are on the field? Perhaps so but you can make that call yourself.
Mike Adams has said he’s not comfortable at Right Tackle, and he showed it again tonight, consistently allowing his man to better him on both inside and outside moves. Todd Haley kept Heath Miller over for help but it wasn’t enough as Big Ben was running for his life once again especially late in the game. One thing to note, the Broncos continued to bring the pass rush even when the Steelers went no huddle in the 4th quarter, whereas the Steelers defense seemed to back off when Peyton Manning went to the no huddle. That added pressure was just too much as Denver loaded up on the right side of the Steelers line and was able to find themselves in the backfield all too often.
Max Starks and Willie Colon didn’t have a particularly bad night for the most part, but they are still learning how to play together too. Center Maurkice Pouncey was having trouble hearing Roethlisberger call for the ball on several occasions, which lead to delayed play start miscues, including burning a critical timeout. These problems were just compounded by the injuries and Pittsburgh was never able to fully recover.
Mike Tomlin is not one to change things up after just one game, nor should he. This issue has been a problem for years now though and one has to wonder how much borrowed time he’s playing with on limited staff up front.