In an exclusive interview last week with Behind The Steel Curtain, Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner opened up about a variety of topics pertaining to his NFL career and things going on with the Pittsburgh Steelers. When asked about his confidence in pass blocking due to the limited times he was called to do it in 2019, Banner opened up about several aspects of his blocking ability.
“A lot of people watch the tape and see me move people because I do have a passion of moving people,” Banner said. “And in the NFL, I’m not going to lie, some of the stuff you saw on tape last year of me covering up guys and moving them five yards down the field and things like that, it’s the first couple steps in terms of the technique getting to the block, it has all been taught to me since I’ve been with the Steelers. All that from the technique standpoint, my feet coming off the ball and making sure I keep them a certain width so I don’t get thrown off my block and things like that. Just pro tips that I’ve learned from both Munch (Mike Munchak) when he was here and now ‘Sweet feet’ coach Sarrett. Just those type of things.”
What is interesting about Banner admitting some of the key things which allow him to be such a quality run blocker were taught to him since arriving in Pittsburgh is the fact he only has had one full offseason with the Steelers. Brought in a couple weeks into training camp in 2018, Banner jumped on the proverbial “moving train” his first season with the Steelers. So to see Banner improve his techniques and not even two full calendar years is encouraging.
When it comes to pass blocking, Banner referenced his resume from college at USC in order to give a greater body of work.
“I gave up three sacks in college,” Banner stated. “I don’t care what anybody says. I don’t care if PFF says four or five. They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. I gave up three sacks in college. Pass blocking—now in terms of my punch and in terms of my kick and opening up, I’m not excuse-making but I had five offensive line coaches in the five seasons that I played there.”
So while Banner has confidence in his pass blocking ability, he admits he still can always improve on his techniques. When it comes to learning these things, he has relied on several of his teammates as well as his coaches.
“So trying to learn the technique and all these type of things, in both run and pass, I have learned so much playing with this veteran group for the Steelers. Learning from Al (Villanueva). Learning from even Matt (Feiler) when he was at tackle, some of the things about sets and things. He’s a seven-year vet. He has so much stuff he can tell me.”
When it comes to being an NFL quality pass blocker, Banner is embracing the challenge and is ready to show what he can bring to the Steelers.
“I’m really, really excited because at heart I enjoy pass blocking,” Banner said. “I just felt like run blocking was just so easy that I took pride in pass blocking if that makes sense. A lot of people are going to label me as a road grader because of their lack of knowledge of football and they’re just assuming by my bio that I’m 6’9” 340 pounds that, ‘Oh, he must be a mauler, he can’t move’ or they don’t watch the film. So at the end of the day that’s on them.”
Even though Banner’s pass blocking skills are a bit of an unknown, he is expected to be given the chance to showcase his talents throughout the 2020 preseason. Whether or not it is enough to earn the starting job over his good friend Chukwuma Okorafor remains to be seen.
The full interview with Zach Banner, in either audio or video form, can be seen HERE.