It was not pretty to watch several times, but below is the offensive line and blocking report for the Steelers 35-7 loss on Sunday to the Ravens. The Ravens defensive front might be one of the best in the league and they are solid at holding the point of attack against the run that allows the linebackers to make plays. They kept heavy pressure on passing downs and disguised blitzes and stunts very well. Here we go with a player by player breakdown from week 1 and their grades.
Willie Colon – Colon will once again be a big loss for the Steelers at right tackle if Marcus Gilbert is not up for the task of replacing him. Colon graded out the highest of all linemen on Sunday and had a pretty good go of it against Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding. Colon did have a key holding call and a false start, but was pretty dominate in the running game. He will get beat to the edge at times in pass protection, but often times recovered nicely. He is good for a pressure every now and again, but is strong from a technique standpoint.
Doug Legursky – As I mentioned headed into this game, Legursky struggles at times with big guys lined up over top of him, especially big guys named Haloti Ngata. Ngata was so hard for Legursky to move by himself in the run game. Overall a pretty below average game as far as both run and pass blocking. When Ngata got his hands inside, Legursky became very unstable and often times walked back. The blown blocking assignment on the fumble to open the second half might not have been his fault, but he had a poor attempt of a hook on Ngata as he headed to the second level and whiffed on Ray Lewis when he got to him, not that it mattered on that play. On a bright note he does move well in short areas and was even used to molly block a few times where he would pull out to outside the tackle. He also had a nice bury on a pull to the left, something Tony Hills could never master. It was not an awful game for Legursky, but certainly not good enough against the competition he faced. He will need to improve against the Seahawks or the flux may be on at right guard. He will not start there all season in my opinion, as he just can not move bodies consistently in the running game.
Maurkice Pouncey – Pouncey had his problems on Sunday moving Terrence Cody or Ngata in the running game. Often times he would just lock his man up in the hole, but was not able to win the point of attack very often. Pouncey also failed to hold a block at the second level a time or two. He did fare much better in pass protection and is one of the best helpers in the league at center. On the first sack though he failed to pick up a delayed Terrell Suggs blitz as Ngata had both Pouncey and Legursky tied up on a slant. I think I counted 3 pressures on the day as well on times when he lost the leverage war. Ngata and Cody could very well be his kryptonite. Another thing I noticed is that he looked to be confused a few times with his line calls and it caught the ire of Ben Roethlisberger when Ben sternly told him, “Let\’s go Pounce!” Once again not an awful performance, but certainly not good enough.
Chris Kemoeatu – Kemo had a good day in the run blocking department, but still struggles with leverage in pass protection when he does not connect with his first punch. He holds on for dear life as he slowly gets walked back into the pocket. He gave up a couple of deep pressures and allowed a hit on Roethlisberger. He reminds me of a Weeble Wobble when he loses the war off of the snap, as it often times looks like he is about to tip over, but seldom does. He still is very straight line mobile despite the knee problem that sidelined him early on in preseason. His recognition of where to help still suffers as I thought he could have helped more inside when his left needed no help. We also saw a molly block this week by him as well as he pulled outside the tackle in pass protection. Make no mistake, Kemoeatu will not be going to the Pro Bowl this year, but the Steelers could do much worse at left guard. He can still maul in the running game.
Jonathan Scott – Scott had a good start, but the wheels started to come off in the middle of the game as Suggs wore him down. He will never be known as a solid run blocker either. He allowed Roethlisberger to be touched on 3 of 5 straight plays in the second half. When he squares up in his pass blocking and does not drop too far he can get the job done, but when he does not get his feet settled quickly he loses balance and can not recover on a move to the inside. It seems there are only a few plays a game, in pass protection, when his feet, hands and technique are all perfect. Usually he ends up just trying maul and Suggs normally wins that battle. Scott will struggle against the better defensive ends and outside linebackers. Mario Williams will be coming along in week 4 and I am already losing sleep thinking about that matchup. The bad thing about Colon going down is that Gilbert might be stuck at right tackle for a while. I had hopes he would become the starting left tackle a few games in, but we are likely stuck with Scott there for while. He will have an occasional good game, but it will likely be sandwiched in-between a few mediocre ones.
Skill Positions – As far as the skill position blocking went, overall it looked good. Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown both missed key blocks on the edge on running plays that could have resulted in more yardage had they made them. Heath Miller had a good showing, but was overwhelmed by two pass rushers and gave up a sack. David Johnson missed an assignment on the first play of the second half and it resulted in a fumble deep in the Steelers end. He also missed on two more run blocks. I thought all of the running backs did well in blitz pick-up and helping out with chips when called for.
Going forward against the Ravens the Steelers will likely need to use 12 personnel much more which will require an extra tight end in lieu of a third receiver. They ran good early in the game against the Ravens but had to abandon it after it got out of hand. The Steelers will not be able to go vertical against the Ravens unless they keep the constant pressure off of Roethlisberger.