Tribune-Review reporter Mark Kaboly wrote Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley gave center Maurkice Pouncey the highest grade he's ever given an offensive lineman after reviewing the Steelers' Week 3 game at Oakland.
The Steelers lost 34-31, and rushed for 55 yards on 20 carries.
Not to tell Haley his business, or bring up a story about a teacher who gave everyone in the class a D because certain people made fun of her son's name during a test (long story), but it does beg a few questions:
1. Is Haley a notoriously low grader?
2. How bad have the offensive linemen Haley's had been?
3. Is he grading on a curve?
Three seems like the most reasonable option. These are easy cracks to make, and I'm only partially joking. Without focusing exclusively on the offensive linemen over every play of the Steelers' 2012 season, Pouncey has looked pretty not bad. Not great. Better than average.
Against Oakland? Pretty not bad. No complaints, doing his job and then some. The question is why isn't his apparently outstanding play (in Haley's estimation, assuming the offensive expert is being honest and Pouncey legitimately graded out higher than any linemen he's ever had, and that's not sarcasm) benefiting Willie Colon or Ramon Foster?
Taking a stab in the dark, neither guard graded out around the all-time level. If Pouncey is really playing at this level, and a center's position is oftentimes providing a double team up front (the Raiders' defense doesn't line a defensive lineman over the center) before releasing to the second level, just how badly are Foster and Colon (and Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert) playing?
There's plenty of blame to be extended to the running backs, though.
The Steelers are tied for the lowest yards per carry total in the league at 2.6 (Tennessee), and have the shortest long rush of the year at 13 yards. That run came from Isaac Redman against the Jets in Week 2. Outside of that, Redman rushed 11 times for 12 yards in that game.
Redman leads the Steelers with 72 yards on 32 carries - 2.3 yards per carry.
Tampa Bay has the second-shortest long run at 17 yards.
While Pouncey may be playing well, it doesn't seem any other lineman or running back is, and clearly, it's the main issue facing this team's offense, which is seventh in the league in passing yards (284.3) and 12th in scoring (25.7 points per game).