The Steelers’ offensive line was not good last Saturday against Seattle. Still, it was bearable to a point where the quarterbacks could move around the pocket and be fine enough to survive. Then, Saturday’s matchup against the Jaguars came. It was a disaster. All three Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph faced heavy pressure at different times. It was an ugly affair that left a sour taste in the mouth of everyone.
If there was a silver lining to the game, it was that Chuks Okorafor had a fine game. It was nothing special, of course, but he was a steady pass protector. In the run game, his weaknesses showed up. Mason Cole was okay, but failed to execute some blocks at the second level and was walked back a few times.
As for the rest of the offensive line, it was a tough game. James Daniels, who was solid in Chicago last year, struggled mightily again. It was not a communication issue, either. Rather, Daniels was simply beat one-on-one with sloppy hand usage and a high pad level. On the other side, Kendrick Green struggled to hold back players with their power moves all game. Green’s lack of length and less than ideal hand usage rear their ugly heads.
Kevin Dotson certainly was not exempt from the struggle bus, either. He had a tough time in the run game getting any movement and let up a number of pressures. Left tackle Dan Moore Jr. may have been the one who had the most trouble. He allowed five pressures on the day, including a sack. Moore has had a solid training camp for the Steelers, but the two preseason games have been tough showings for the second-year Texas A&M product.
So, if they all had a downer, what is the solution? How can anything be fixed at this point? In reality, it is going to be a tough fix. 14 carries for 24 yards is never enough on the ground, but it was not even accompanied by above-the-line pass protection. In the words of Mike Tomlin, there was a whole lot of junior varsity play occurring along the offensive line. Partially, the Steelers will have to lie in the bed they made.
At this point, the Steelers badly need to look outside of the organization to find some help. Whether that ends up being quality depth or another starter, it really does need to happen. Saturday’s performance was a potential wake-up call for the Steelers. Listen, there are some interesting names out there on the market.
Oday Aboushi, for one, is a tenured veteran with 47 starts under his belt at multiple spots along the offensive line. At the very least, he is quality depth. In the best case, the Steelers could bring him in to start. The same could be said about someone like Daryl Williams, who has started 74 games in his career, including 17 last year with Buffalo. The names like Ereck Flowers, J.C. Tretter, and others are flashy.
Now, those are names that are shooting for the stars. In reality, it is unlikely the Steelers will go out and sign a big name on the offensive line. But they must sniff around and find players that have promise. There are teams such as the Eagles who have plenty of offensive line depth, but some of those players will not make the final cut.
It’s really this simple, however. Whatever happens, it is hard to see the Steelers being satisfied with this room. Really, after their performances in the preseason and a below-average training camp, how could they? The Steelers rightfully should be looking, and they need to be.
It is hard to envision the Steelers’ offensive line being any good this season anyways. But adding some help from the outside is a logical move at this point.