As a new season is set to begin on Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers, an old problem arose during the preseason that has proven in the past to have detrimental effects on their team.
It is no secret that the offensive line has been an issue the last four seasons. Even with new additions made this offseason to improve it, the Steelers' offensive line struggled in the three preseason games they played.
For instance, in their second preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Steelers posted a poor pass-blocking grade of just 44.6. Second-year tackle Dan Moore Jr. accounted for five of the line's 10 quarterback pressures in that contest. Overall, the unit's inability to win consistently in the trenches has resulted in a low vote of confidence from various football analysts, such as Ryan McCrystal of Sharp Football Analysis, who ranked them as the 30th offensive line in the NFL.
Whether the problems are linked to technique or coaching, the Steelers' offensive line continues to be the team's Achilles heel, perhaps one impeding them from becoming true Superbowl contenders.
The key to their success starts with coaching, namely their new offensive line coach, Pat Meyer. Not only does he have the daunting task of correcting deficiencies in their technique, he is also responsible for ensuring that each player has the right mental disposition to win in the trenches. An aspect that was revealed by lineman James Daniels during his interview with Steelers/Pitt reporter Nick Farabaugh in August was hand placement. With this noted, Meyer will have his work cut out for him to ensure this issue is corrected with each member of the offensive line.
No doubt, this unit continues to be a work in progress. Week 1 already presents a difficult task, as they face the Cincinnati Bengals, whose defensive line is among the most disruptive in the NFL.
A strong performance in this game could go a long way towards helping them gain the confidence needed to gain respect from other teams and help enhance an offence that has the potential to become one of the best this season.