PITTSBURGH — Broderick Jones is not starting for the Steelers at left tackle. Well, at least he is not yet. That could come soon, with Dan Moore Jr. struggling early in the season. But until then, Jones’ only reps of experience come during practice against his guys, just like they did in training camp. But offensive coordinator Matt Canada sees a way that Jones could get onto the field without him being the starting left tackle.
The team has gone away from most jumbo sets this season to run 12 and 13 personnel at a higher clip. That makes sense for the group, who invested much into the position, including a draft pick on Georgia TE Darnell Washington. But so far, the run game is not clicking, and maybe that extra lineman could help open things up. Jones could be that guy.
“I think that’s certainly a possibility,” Canada said. “We’ve explored that in the past. I think Broderick did a nice job last week. You weren’t aware, but it wasn’t known coming out where he was going to be. Broderick had a great week playing right tackle in practice and did a great job of that. Broderick is coming along and doing a great job, and we certainly want to use him. In that capacity or another capacity, we want to get him involved here. Certainly, that’s a point we’re looking to do, but also happy with where we’re at with the guys that are playing.”
Jones is not a cure-all for the Steelers’ run game woes. Around the room, most guys feel the issue is more about their failures than something mystical about the scheme or chemistry. Coming out of Georgia, Jones is a far more polished run blocker than a pass protector. From that standpoint, he is ready to play right now.
In the preseason, Jones stood out on the Steelers offensive line in that area. Coaches continuously praised him for those efforts. Jones is no question a rawer player from a technique standpoint, but he has a ton of upside, and the team needs some shot in the arm in the rushing attack.
The running backs are not the issue in that area, and really, the scheme has not let the Steelers down there much. Free-flowing linebackers and edge rushers have killed the Steelers’ zone running scheme. Will Jones and an extra gap on the edge fix it? He could, and it’s something worth trying given Jones’ strength in that area.