If you’ve followed the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout the offseason, you know one of the biggest concerns on the team has been the offensive line. There have been questions surrounding the unit since the free agency period began this past winter.
As the Steelers made moves to acquire the likes of James Daniels and Mason Cole, questions about the play at tackles and guard continued. Those concerns were not quieted when training camp began as the Steelers’ defensive front had their way with the offensive line on more than one occasion.
Advance to the preseason, and the Steelers line has been a mixed bag throughout the first two games. Week 1 vs. the Seattle Seahawks showed a unit capable of moving opponents off the ball, but struggle in pass protection. Week 2 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars saw the group unable to do anything well with any amount of consistency.
The performance last Saturday resulted in the offensive line being singled out in front of the team as Mike Tomlin spoke about the tape the group put out there in their second preseason stint together.
This isn’t the first time Tomlin has singled out a player/unit in front of the team, and if the offensive line is looking for any inspiration or wisdom from a veteran who has been there, and done that, they should look no further than Cam Heyward. The defensive captain spoke about how the line should respond, not just from Tomlin’s message, but also from the poor performance.
“You just deal with it,” said Heyward. “Not going to make anything of it. We’ve all put bad tape on tape. It’s how you respond. You’ve got to own it. If you make excuses about it, it keeps finding you. It’s about growing.
“It’s about those young guys stepping up. We’re going to count on them a lot this year. Our o-line is young. Those guys have got to produce.”
A great message from Heyward to any teammate who finds themselves behind the proverbial 8-ball heading into the preseason finale, and the reason why the message should resonate is simple. Heyward has been in that same position. In fact, almost every players has been in that position one time or another.
“Every guy has been in that position,” said Heyward. “I had Coach Mitch, and John Mitchell is not going to hold anything back. It taught me to look for those mistakes more and learn from those mistakes. You just have to get better.”
For the line, dwelling on last week’s game isn’t going to do any good after the initial review of the contest. This isn’t to suggest you burn the tape and never watch it again, but once you’ve reviewed the tape and developed a plan for the future, it’s time to let it go. If the line learns from Heyward, and it seems as if they have, they will know the response is what’s important.
So far, every lineman has owned their performance. Standing in front of reporters, answering questions and being honest about just how poorly they played. At this point, the only thing left for them to do is to go out on Sunday vs. the Detroit Lions and put a great performance on top. A performance which will boost the confidence of both the team, and the fan base.
If they can do that, it will be just what the doctor ordered for the offensive line and the team moving into the regular season.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the preseason finale this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium and the 2022 regular season.