In a recent interview with Steelers.com writer Teresa Varley , third year center/guard B.J. Finney stressed the importance of playing center. He admitted that his center play needed development; with All-Pro lineman Maukice Pouncey as the only true center on the roster, the need for a proficient backup center has become paramount.
Throughout camp, Finney has been playing the majority of his repetitions at center. With every passing practice, Finney is becoming more comfortable playing the position, thanks in part to the guidance of both Pouncey and offensive lineman coach Mike Munchak.
Friday’s game against the Giants presented the opportunity for Finney to display the strides he has made playing at center. In a game where the offensive line play was somewhat inadequate, Finney was one of the few bright spots.
Strong base and Pad level:
One of the noticeable aspects about Finney in this game was his strong base and pad level. Whenever Finney firmly planted himself, the opposing defensive tackle had a hard time getting any penetration. In this clip, he is up against Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley. From the snap, one can see Bromley’s intention to bull rush his way into the backfield; Finney maintains a strong base and lower pad level, neutralizing Bromley’s pass rush. Even if one is to assume that Bromley is physically stronger than Finney, proper technique was the deciding factor in this battle.
Right place at the Right time:
As was the case with many of the offensive lineman playing in this game, plenty of mistakes were made. This particular play could have been disastrous if Finney had not detected the stunt being executed by Giants defensive linemen Bromley and Vernon Oliver. From the snap, you will notice a small period of time where Finney had no one to block; one would have assume that Finney missed an assignment. To his credit, Finney had the presence of mind not to assist Ramon Foster, rather to prevent Oliver from coming through the middle.
This particular sequence should have resulted in a sack, but thankfully Finney received timely assistance from fellow lineman Keavon Milton.
After viewing this clip, some unfortunate occurrences took place. First, Finney was caught out of position against a lineman that had a quick jump off the ball; this led to the second occurrence being poor hand placement attributed to having a higher pad level. In situations where Finney encounters athletic linemen, such as the one in this example, he must establish a strong, low base as he did in the first clip.
If a strong, low base is not established, footing then becomes an issue as displayed in this clip earlier in the game.
From what we all know of B.J. Finney, he is capable of much more than he displayed in this game. After studying Finney in this game, he showed flashes of potential, but there is still a lot of work to be done if he has any desire to be Pouncey’s backup. Yet, of all the offensive linemen that played in this game, he had one of the better performances. Finney is undoubtedly natural at guard, but the key to increased playing time will be determined by his ability to be as versatile as possible.