Readers Forum weighs in on Steelers offensive line

Justin K. Aller

Reader Chris Brink reached out to the Powers That Be at Behind The Steel Curtain, seemingly miffed over the current arrangement and depth of the Steelers offensive line.

His email:

Ben had to run for his life most of the first part of the season.

Pass blocking looked like a Chinese fire drill with Ben running everywhere to save his life.

This year we have no depth on the line. Adams and Gilbert were hurt last year. Adams wasn't very good at pass protection. DeCastro hasn't proven that he was a #1 pick.

With Starks gone.... Legursky wasn't much help but may not be back..... Beechum OK - not prime time....Then with the play calling - run plays against 8 in the box - between the tackles because Starks can't run block. (no wonder we couldn't run)

I can't imagine that 2013 is going to be much better. My prediction if something isn't done is Ben is out half the season because he gets creamed.

We have a lot good weapons - but we are weak on offensive and defensive line depth.

One or two injuries and 8 and 8 will look like a real good season.

Thanks for joining the party, Donnie Downer!

No, seriously, I disagree with most of what you wrote, but I understand why you feel the way you do. This is a matter of opinion more than anything, but the root of this - and what lots of fans and observers are saying and will be saying until kickoff in Week 1 - is based in the simple concept if injuries.

The funny thing about depth is no one questions it unless starters get hurt. Funny and obvious. If the presumed starting line up, for argument's sake, left to right, Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Mike Adams play 16 games and never get hurt, there is no need to worry about what Guy Whimper or Kelvin Beachum will be like.

This obviously is over-simplified, but let's just look at the law of averages here. How many consecutive years can one offensive line unit experience enough injuries where players at the bottom or not even on the depth chart will play at some point? Odds are still better none of them will experience an injury that keeps them out longer than one game. Bumps and bruises and game-time decisions are frequent, multiple missed games are not.

I disagree that Ben Roethlisberger had to run for his life in the first part of the season. I saw a quarterback throwing confidently and accurately, and, statistically, he was on the same level as the top passers in the league.

More than anything, I wish to dispel the myth the best way to protect a quarterback is by providing the highest level pass protectors in the world and equip them with everything except firearms to keep him healthy.

Two things that have nothing to do with pass protection: Running the football and releasing the ball quickly.

This team tried to run frequently in the earlier part of the year, just with a low level of success. That failure was on the running backs as much as it was on the offensive line. There is much more athleticism in the interior offensive line in 2013 than there was in Week 1 of 2012. The tackles will also see a boost in quickness and speed, which can be leveraged successfully in a zone running scheme - which is the specialty of the offensive line coach the Steelers hired this offseason.

I'm not a rocket surgeon, but adding those things together, it seems like the Steelers' intention this offseason is to make their weakness into their biggest strength.

And I think it's going to work, and it will work well.

If there are five injuries in the first four hours of camp, you can quote this entire column.

Questions for the Readers Forum? Email Managing Editor Neal Coolong at the address listed in his profile

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