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A Tale of 2 Guards For The Steelers That May Signal The Worst Of Times Ahead For Pittsburgh’s O-Line

Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

A Tale of 2 Guards For The Steelers That May Signal The Worst Of Times Ahead For Pittsburgh’s O-Line

The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line struggles have been well documented over the past two seasons. During that time span, former Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger’s ‘decline’ was chalked up to arm strength. At this point, the national media and Steeler Nation may want to reconsider their evaluations of the retired QB. Maybe even start composing some apologies, because only a Hall of Fame quarterback could have managed to make back-to-back playoff appearances with the limited protection he was provided.

Steelers Free Agent Signees

Pittsburgh Steelers center, Mason Cole (left), and guard James Daniels (right), participate in phase two of the voluntary off-season workout program, Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. | Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers spent money this off-season on two free agents who were supposed to solidify the interior of the offensive line. James Daniels and Mason Cole were young veterans who were going to be the new leaders of a vastly improved Steelers line. Cole thus far, has not overwhelmed, but he has provided satisfactory center play. Daniels on the other hand was touted as the leader of the offensive line and was being counted on by the Steelers to deliver above average play.


Steelers OG’s Kendrick Green and James Daniels’ Struggles in 2022 Season Opener Create Room For Concern on OL


Nick Farabaugh, the Steelers beat writer for Pittsburgh Sports Now, caught up with Daniels and asked him what he thought was the reason for his struggles against the Seattle Seahawks and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The fifth-year veteran was self-effacing and give Farabaugh a direct answer:

The free agent veteran guard has pinpointed a recurring problem that he has corrected throughout his career. He was an effective guard for the Chicago Bears, so it is reasonable to believe he could correct the problem again this season. However, Pittsburgh plays in the AFC North and they face some of the best defenses in football twice per season. The Steelers cannot afford for Daniels to get beaten like a drum for the first part of the regular season.

Steelers Kevin Dotson

Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

The other interior position was supposed to feature a position battle between incumbent Kevin Dotson and the Steelers third round draft pick from 2021, Kendrick Green. The team was relying on him taking a step forward upon a return to the guard position that he occupied for much of his collegiate career, but it just has not materialized.  Dotson has spent most of training camp nursing injuries and Green’s performance can best be summed up with the following highlight:

Farabaugh also shared the former 2021 third round draft pick’s comments about his performance (or lack thereof) in the preseason. The former center was also critical of his own performance, but unlike his veteran counterpart, he did not point out a specific area that he had to improve:

After watching the first two preseason games, the reason that Matt Canada and Mike Tomlin may have been looking for a mobile quarterback is to buy the time Roethlisberger did not need to process pre-snap where he should go with the ball. Mitch Trubisky has run for his life several times in limited action. Bob Pompeani, the veteran KDKA sports director, pointed out during Kenny Pickett’s limited action Saturday night, that the Steelers offensive line has to a better job protecting signal-callers:

The preseason is where teams should work out bugs in communication and timing. It is a little disconcerting that this far into camp, the interior of the offensive line is not only unsettled, it is in disarray. The starters will likely play against the Detroit Lions in the final preseason game out of necessity, which is not a good look for the 2022 Steelers offense.

Steelers Quarterback Kenny Pickett

Yahoo.com

The bright spot of the offense in the preseason has been the play-makers and the quarterback play for the black and gold. It will be all for naught if they cannot establish a running game and face 2nd and long consistently. A key component of this season’s success will be the ability to possess the ball and give the defense a chance to rest. The Steelers, no matter how well the new quarterback plays, should not rely on the idea that they can score points in bunches like they did under Roethlisberger.

The offensive line has to improve drastically in the next three weeks if that is going to happen against the defending AFC Champion, Cincinnati Bengals. Nick Farabaugh revealed that the Steelers veteran guard knows what is wrong and is working to fix it. He also revealed that Pittsburgh may have wasted a third round draft pick on a very nice guy from Illinois who must improve immediately before he finishes last.

 

What do you think, Steeler Nation? Are you confident the offensive line will be ready by opening day? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.

I have been rooting for the Steelers actively since 1975. I love the Black and Gold and support them through thick and thin. I am a Navy Veteran, living in Jacksonville, FL and never miss a chance to go to the neutral site games here in Jacksonville. I am new to the Steeler Nation website, but I love discussing Steelers Past, Present and Future.

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