When people talk about statistics from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 season, most would point to their 7-2 second half of the season to finish the year 9-8. After starting 2-6, having that type of turnaround is absolutely worthy of recognition. However, in my opinion, that isn’t the most incredible stat from the past season.
No, that would belong to the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line. But to be more specific, the line’s overall continuity.
Just look at the below stat from Mark Kaboly of The Athletic:
The Steelers starting offensive line played 5,753 of a possible 5,800 snaps this year — 99.2%— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) January 10, 2023
You read that correctly, the Steelers’ offensive line played 5,753 snaps together out of 5,800 potential snaps.
The only players who missed any snaps throughout the season were Mason Cole, who exited both games vs. the Cincinnati Bengals and home contest vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a foot injury, and Chuks Okorafor who left the win over the Atlanta Falcons with a shoulder injury for one play.
Other than that, the offensive line, Dan Moore Jr., Kevin Dotson and James Daniels, didn’t miss a snap.
All of that considered, you’d expect Mike Tomlin to be ecstatic with his offensive front and the progress they made. Well, he was, but to an extent.
“I’m not going to hate the fact that we had consistent availability in the offensive line.” Tomlin said in his post-season press conference Monday. “I think they grew individually and collectively at an increased rate because of that. So, where that leads us moving forward, hopefully it is a springboard in terms of what transpires.
“The negative consequences are maybe some of the backups that you have you didn’t get an in-game evaluation on, but you do have an evaluation of the day-to-day, their preparedness, their professionalism. So that’s just life in the business.”
There is no denying the offensive line’s ability to stay healthy, and together, had a big impact on the overall results in the offense down the stretch. But it also should be added how new offensive line coach Pat Meyer impacted the group as well.
When he was hired, many Steelers fans bemoaned the addition, and were thinking it was another one-and-done offensive line coach for the black-and-gold. It doesn’t look like that will be the case with Meyer, as Tomlin spoke about what he meant to the offensive front Monday.
“He’s a good communicator, good teacher. He challenges the guys.” said Tomlin. “He does all the things that you want a guy in that space to do, formally and informally in terms of the growth and development of an individual and a collective. He’s been really solid.
“I’ll tell you this: Probably the most significant thing about the development of our offensive line is the availability of that group, the continuity required to grow is a major component of it, and we’re thankful that not only do we have really good consistent in-game performance with that group, but just good practice ability and consistency in that area from that group. It starts first with availability and then the work, and he did a good job shepherding that work.”
At the bye week, both national and local media pundits spoke about the Steelers team needs and how it started addressing the offensive line. Mainly left tackle and left guard. It’s understandable, but after the finish to the season you have to wonder if the organization views things the same after what the front five did in both pass protection and run blocking.
This isn’t to suggest those aforementioned positions shouldn’t be addressed this offseason, but maybe not as early as once thought. Nonetheless, if you want to point a singular finger at where the Steelers’ offense turned around in the second half of 2022 — it’s the offensive line’s continuity. An impressive achievement.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for what could be a very lengthy offseason.