The Pittsburgh Steelers have already made addressing their offensive issues a top priority this offseason. Starting at the top, they will install a new offense with Matt Canada as the new offensive coordinator, they hired a quarterback guru in Mike Sullivan, tight ends coach, and they brought in their first quality control coach since 2018. But the most obvious spot of change is its offensive line which saw the promotion of Adrian Klem, and the experienced Chris Morgan as his assistant.
Steelers are serious about this offensive line stuff. Their hired an asst OLine coach, Chris Morgan, who was Falcons OLine coach/run game coordinator for 5 years. He has more experience than Adrian Klemm.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) February 9, 2021
The Steelers were a soft and sloppy group along their offensive line in 2020. After the Week 5 mark, when Randy Fitchner took control of the running game, the Steelers lost any ability to drive defenders down field. The push was severely lacking, and often times running backs would be getting tackled from the first moment they touched the ball. To make things worse Ben Roethlisberger had to throw the football at an insanely quick rate just to save himself from getting killed. If you were ever worried about the timing of his throws, it clearly stemmed from a distrust of his protection.
The additions of Matt Canada, Adrian Klemm, and Chris Morgan will see a complete overhaul of the offense’s philosophies. You will see more motion and positional resets pre-snap then you ever have from this team before. You will see a heavy implementation of inside and outside zone blocking schemes. And you should genuinely see talent used more appropriately like Derek Watt, or Eric Ebron playing roles that are better suited for their skill sets. As for the offensive line, they should be more of a smash mouth group which should be complemented with a plethora of play action and miss direction type plays. Bottom line is, they're going to bring the fight to the defense, as opposed to the other way around.
A slight issue does arise. What about the talent? Alejandro Villanueva is either knocking on retirement’s door, or will be playing elsewhere. Maurkice Pouncey is deciding on whether he himself will retire. David DeCastro played injured throughout the year, and may be a salary cap casualty/trade candidate. Others like Matt Feiler, and Jerald Hawkins, are free agents. While Zach Banner has all but confirmed he will be back in Pittsburgh through multiple tweets. Where does this uncertainty leave the members of the offensive line?
For starters, I anticipate both Villanueva and Feiler to walk in free agency. Secondly I think Ben Roethlisberger ultimately convinces Maurkice Pouncey to return, but having to do so at a reduced rate. Finally, I Think David DeCastro is still too important to this offensive group to move on from yet. Due to the Steelers’ extreme salary cap crunch, the only other players they will be able to bring in will be from the draft. I fully anticipate they bring in both a tackle and a center (whom can play all the three interior positions) but won't push any of them into starting roles, at least not early. The Steelers 2021 offensive line depth chart could look something like this:
Depending on how good the Steelers rookies are, they could insert themselves in the starting lineup very early into next season. This group could absolutely be better then the unit we saw in 2020. But like always, the Steelers need to nail their draft picks.
What do you think? Do you think the Steelers will be able to fix the offensive line in just this offseason alone? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.