The key for any solid unit is a good core or foundation. How many times have any of you seen a pimped out Dodge Neon that is equipped with a high end spoiler, chrome wheels, a fancy flaming paint job, and sound system that is worth more than the vehicle as a whole? When you shred all these accessories what are you left with? A 1.8L, 4cyl, 115 hp piece of road dung that damn sure is not going to offer you much. This is basically my analysis of the Steelers OL this season. We have very talented guys at skilled positions that have the ability to stretch the field and be game changers but our core/foundation (i.e. Offensive Line) is atrocious. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has said that there are two philosophies in dealing with the OL and one of those options is to spread a opponent thin with talented skill players. While I can see and understand this point of view I find myself reverting back to the Dodge Neon analogy. How many fans would trade at least one of those weapons for a key piece in that foundation, regardless of the position along the OL? The sacrifice would obviously be that one of our weapons would be lost but we would gain another “pillar” to our foundation. The Steelers just re-signed T Max Starks and cut T Chris Scott to make room. I for one am glad that they at least made an effort to help this unit but at the same time I am a little disappointed that they cut another mid round second year guy to make room on a unit that is full of injuries, but I will save that for another time.
I think the best available unit that we will have once Starks is game ready should be the following combination:
Starks – Foster – Pouncey – Kemo – Gilbert
I believe there is no explanation for Starks over Scott or Essex or Pouncey being in the C position. I believe that Foster is better suited for the LG position versus the RG one. In the Seattle game he looked good filling in for Kemo and played with some nastiness that I like to see from an offensive lineman. I know this was one game and it was against Seattle but I believe this might be his natural position. On some of our counter plays, that are getting ate up lately, Kemo is usually a pulling to his right. Well why not line him up on the right and send him straight ahead? When Redman spelled Mendy last week there was more straight line running plays and we were pretty successful in running the ball in the 3rd quarter. Gilbert is a promising rookie and I believe has more upside than both Scott and Essex combined. I believe he will eventually be a solid T in the NFL but for this season he needs to take his lumps and learn the ropes. I know he is not the most “experienced” guy but considering with Scott’s and Essex’s combined “experience” has not taught them much I do not see the advantage.
I also believe MT and BA need to get a better “feel” for how the game is going and be prepared to make an adjustment. If that combo is struggling in pass protection it is time to adjust the philosophy of attacking with weapons and bring in the TE’s or RB’s for max protect. I for one would rather give Ben another 2 or 3 seconds to find a receiver instead of just 2 – 3 seconds from the snap of the ball. This extra help could also peel off and be outlets. I know this is not the big pass play that we look to complete but it is something different and makes this team more unpredictable which has been a complaint with many fans, me included.