Below is the offensive line report and breakdown for the Steelers week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday. As I always this grading is done on a play-by-play basis and a good or bad is given on every play. I always caution that it is impossible to know what the assignment on every play is, but I take what the tape gives me to make the best educated guesees as to what they are.
Ramon Foster – Foster started at left guard with Chris Kemoeatu down and he really played well in both the passing and running game. His run game play was highlighted by his pull right on the Isaac Redman 20-yard touchdown run. Foster mostly was responsible for making the run possible and can be credited for taking 3 Seahawks out of the play. Foster always seemed to finish his blocks and his pass blocking was pretty stellar and he worked well at not getting pushed back into the pocket. He also did well on the few stunts he faced. Foster still lacks the short area quickness, but it was not so evident on Sunday. Foster did not have the best preseason, but you would not have known it. It would not be surprising if Foster starts against the Colts Sunday night as the status of Kemoeatu is still up in the air. Foster was the best Steelers lineman against the Seahawks in week 2.
Maurkice Pouncey – Pouncey had a great bounce back week. He really only had a few errors in both areas of his game and I had to knit pick a little to find them. He does still appear to be limited just a tad by his ankle. a few times he struggled to get to his second level man on a few run plays, but like I said, I really knit picked him. He generally won his point of attack battles when asked to go one-on-one. As always, he knows where and when to help in pass protection. Really an all around nice game for him.
Marcus Gilbert – Gilbert made his first NFL start against the Seahawks and he did not let his teammates down. It should be noted that Gilbert was given plenty of help throughout the game as the Steelers made sure to help him with a tight end, mostly in the form of Heath Miller. The sack he allowed early in the game was a tough one to place blame on him for. It is hard to know exactly what his assignment on that play was, but he was late getting to the edge to block the blitzing Atari Bigby. The play that Ben Roethlisberger was injured on, Gilbert got beat by a spin move by Raheem Brock. He did have the presence of mind to leg-whip Brock on his way by though and this caused Brock to fall forward though into the legs of Roethlisberger. This ended up drawing a flag, but could have resulted in a season ending injury. His run blocking seemed pretty spot on assignment wise and fared OK when asked to go to the second level. Most of his errors came in the second half and it might be a little conditioning that he has to take care of. The Steelers will likely still give him plenty of help in the next few games, but his foot-work seems good as does his technique. He can catch up with speed rushers as well and cut off their angle to the quarterback. Overall it was a good first start for him.
Doug Legursky – Most of the problems Legursky had on Sunday was when he lost one on one battles on running plays when he was the point of attack. This will likely be forever the worst part of his game as it usually just ends in a stalemate and the hole remains clogged. He still does very well on the move and pulling left. He also saw a few goal-line snaps at fullback, but was not as effective Sunday due to the congestion in front of him. His pass blocking was solid and he received help numerous times from Pouncey. He also had a clipping penalty charged to him on Sunday in addition. Overall it was not a bad game for him and he likely remains at right guard at least until Kemoeatu is healthy. When that happens, Foster may get a shot to unseat him there if he continues to play like he did in week 2.
Jonathan Scott – Scott gave up a sack and 3 pressures by my count against the Seahawks, but overall it was not as bad of a performance as we have seen in the past from him. He did get some well needed help a few times by a running back and that is just something the Steelers will need to do going forward with him. His flaws are what we have come to expect, he drops too deep at times and he is an easy walk back when he allows hands in his chest. He also is not reliable in run blocking to his side. I have seen much worse from him though and his problems are not lack of effort. The Steelers won with him last year and they can win with him this year as well.
Trai Essex – Hard to break down a player with just 4 plays to his credit, but I think Essex played fine during his limited snaps at right guard when Legursky was used at fullback.
Skill Positions – Only a few things not to like in the blocking of the skilled positions. David Johnson might be to blame for not taking out Earl Thomas on the 4th and goal run. Johnson allowed a flashing Thomas to streak right by him to blow up the play. He also had a few other run blocking gaffs on the day. Heath Miller and Hines Ward really showed their stuff on Sunday and rookie Weslye Saunders also carried out his assignments well. Emmanuel Sanders missed a key run block, but the effort is always there with him. All of the running backs did well in chipping and pass protection.
Summation – Overall a great effort by the line on Sunday. The short yardage part of the game, the goal-line blocking in-particular needs improvement as they are just not blowing people off of the ball down there. Pass protection was much better this week as opposed to the Ravens game. Sunday saw two new starters on the line and I thought the line played well as a unit overall.