So, we arrive to arguably the hardest position to grade in the entire game.
There are a multitude of stats for every position on the field except for offensive lineman. The reason for that is that you only notice these guys when they do something bad or mess up.
The good news is, we can still use stats to try to determine the level of play we saw from the big men up front this past season.
No conversation about the Steelers’ offensive line would be complete without talking about the incredible number of injuries this group of men sustained before and during the season.
Start with rookies David DeCastro and Mike Adams. DeCastro was injured in a pre-season game. (As an aside, these pre-season games have to go. What is the purpose of them aside from being a money grab by the NFL and their teams?) He would miss most of the season.
Mike Adams missed five games, including the last four, three of which the Steelers lost.
Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert missed games due to injuries, while Max Starks and Willie Colon were nicked up during the year.
Consequently, it was very, very hard for the O line to establish any continuity and play well consistently.
Anyone who knows anything about football will tell you that you need consistent play from the offensive line to be a good offensive team, and we saw far too little of that this year. A majority of that is due to injuries.
To be fair, there were good stretches. As I have pointed out in previous articles, this unit was on pace to give up their fewest number of sacks in years about halfway through the season.
They also put three games in a row together with running backs gaining 100 yards.
But it was too little good play with too much time between periods of good play.
As it was, this unit allowed 37 sacks, which was tied for 18th in the league. And the running game was T28 in the league with a paltry 3.8 yards per carry.
So, we are left with trying to grade this unit with incomplete information about their play since we didn’t get to see the actual players all together at any point this season.
I guess I could just say “incomplete,” but that feels like a cop out.
I will say, however, that I’m looking forward to having this entire unit healthy to see what they can do. When they were healthy, most of the individual pieces of this line played well, but seeing them all together will be a treat.
If you have read anything I have read, you know that I do not like to use injuries as an excuse. Every team in the NFL has injuries. The best teams have reliable backups who can fill in. That being said, you can’t discount the injury factor. I will have to give them a C-.