Most fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers thought the team was over the red-zone issues which plagued the dynamic offense throughout the 2014 season. After going 5-5 in the red-zone against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, the Steelers struggled when it mattered most against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3.
Despite converting on 1 of 2 red-zone attempts in the game, the Steelers struggled early in the game around the goal line. Most, if not all, of these issues stemmed from the offensive line. This will be the focus for this film room session.
Maurkice Pouncey is a rare talent. There is no denying that, but when you watch Cody Wallace in certain situations you see exactly why Pouncey is an All Pro and perennial Pro Bowler. On the play above, you can see Wallace get the first step he needs to in positioning himself to seal off his one-on-one matchup and give Le'Veon Bell a lane to the end-zone. Despite the first step being solid, Wallace gets out-manned and the play is blown up because of it.
If Wallace were able to hold his block for just a split second longer it would have given Bell a one-on-one with the inside linebacker, which is a battle Bell will win more than he will lose. This play is a perfect illustration how if one player doesn't do their job, it can blow up an entire play. The blocking across the line, other than Wallace, is solid, but it is the weak run blocking ability of Wallace which keeps the Steelers from putting 6-points on the board.
On this play, you can see how a great jump by a defender, and a failed assignment of the offensive tackle can result in a good play gone bad. On this play, you see Kelvin Beachum whiff on an attempt to chip the defensive end off the snap. This small detail in the play, completely ends the play before it begins.
Beachum has two responsibilities here. To chip the end, while working his way to the flat to help block. Beachum seems to be forgetting about assignment number one, and trying to get to the flat. Him doing so, allows the end to get his hand on the ball, and prevent a potential touchdown for the black and gold. A small mistake which had a big impact in the situation.
On this play you can see some poor interior blocking, and a great running back refusing to be denied a touchdown. Just look at how the Rams collapse the interior of the Steelers' offensive line. Cody Wallace gets annihilated at the point of attack, and it should end the play in it's tracks. However, when you have a running back like Le'Veon Bell, you never know what is going to happen.
Watch Bell's lateral quickness to move around the collapsed pocket, and the leg drive to continue into the end zone well after contact was made. This was the lone touchdown scored in the game, and it was certainly a credit to No. 26, not so much the offensive line.
The Steelers played a great defensive front in the Rams front seven, and they were able to escape with a win. However, the offensive line has to improve their play Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens if they expect the team to score points, especially with Michael Vick under center.
The one thing the Steelers have going for them is offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Munchak has a great group of athletes along the offensive line, and will certainly have them ready to play when the Ravens come to Heinz Field Thursday. Also, the Ravens defensive front isn't nearly as impressive as St. Louis', so the Steelers have that to look forward to on prime time when Thursday Night Football comes to town.