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Can Maurkice Pouncey bring a spark back to the Steelers offense?

After missing the last two games, the Steelers captain returns from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Never underestimate leadership.

Often times when an NFL team has great veteran leadership it is undervalued as it’s not usually something measurable on the field of play. But when a team is missing veteran leadership, it can become very apparent very quickly.

It’s not like the Pittsburgh Steelers have been without any leadership while center Maurkice Pouncey has been on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Ben Roethlisberger is still the leader this offense needs, but do not undervalue the leadership contribution of Pouncey.

The Steelers have two offensive captains—Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey. The reason they are both there is because they are both vitally important, and not just to the rest of the team but to each other. Both players have often been tied to each other when it comes to the remainder of their careers. They know the importance the other one brings.

Over the last two weeks, the Steelers offense has been struggling compared to the previous 10 games. Granted, there was weaker offensive performances sprinkled in here and there throughout 2020, but the two game stretch by the Steelers in Weeks 12 and 13, granted only being five days apart, was the weakest to date this season. Of course the short week could also be blamed for part of the struggles with the Steelers loss to the Washington Football Team, and the strange week and a half that was before facing the Baltimore Ravens was also a factor in that game as well. But things just seemed a little bit off, regardless of reason.

Is captain Maukice Pouncey the fail-safe fix for the Steelers offense? That would be an extremely difficult item to prove. Will his return to the lineup perhaps bring a spark this team needs to get their office back on track? Well, it definitely won’t hurt.

In Pouncey’s absence, J.C. Hassenauer performed admirably, particularly against the Ravens when the start was thrust upon him the day of the game. And even though Pouncey is not tearing up player grades such as those given by Pro Football Focus, his experience and leadership in setting the Steelers offensive line in their blocking scheme is a factor which can’t be ignored. Add in the fact the entire NFL knows to what lengths he will go to stand up for his teammates, regardless of length of suspension, speaks volumes without saying a word.

Will Pouncey instantly improve the Steelers running game? Probably not to the level where it needs improved, especially noting it has struggled throughout the season even when Pouncey was in the lineup. Will Pouncey‘s presence help receivers catch balls that hit their hands? Probably not. Can Pouncey help to motivate and inspire his teammates on the field, in the huddle, and in the locker room? Absolutely. That’s what leaders do.

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves underdogs in a game going into Week 14 for the first time since they traveled to Baltimore in Week 7. The return of Pouncey is very unlikely to change the betting odds in the Steelers favor. But it’s easy to say the Steelers offense was missing something the last two weeks. It’s hard to narrow down if it was scheme, desire, execution, or a combination of all these things. I like to call it that they were missing a spark. And if anyone can bring a spark to this offense other than Ben Roethlisberger, it is Maurkice Pouncey.

I wholeheartedly believe this. In the Steelers Preview podcast which appeared live on our YouTube and Facebook channels Thursday night, I picked the Buffalo Bills to narrowly defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night. I made this choice with the stipulation that if personnel changes occurred, such as the return of Pouncey, I reserved the right to change my selection. And I will. That’s how much I believe Maurkice Pouncey brings in the leadership department to the Steelers offense. But what I think doesn’t matter. Perhaps I have too much offensive lineman bias. But I also wholeheartedly believe the Steelers themselves know this as well.

Come on Pouncey, get this team fired up for prime time Sunday night!