My offensive line breakdown from the week 7 game against the Arizona Cardinals is complete and I was fooled a bit from my initial views. I stated earlier that I thought it was a roller coaster type performance, but after going through it thoroughly, I found a pretty consistent showing. I think the play of Chris Kemoeatu made it seem like the line was worse than what it actually was. While I thought the run blocking was adequate, there were not huge holes or big creases as the Cardinals did a great job of avoiding second level traffic and did a good job loading the box to outnumber interior blockers. The rushing stats really do not match the overall play of the offensive line in this game from my viewing, but it by no means was perfect. The counter pike play also was not working this week. The Cardinals defensive line only had 3 tackles on the day, but their linebackers always seemed to be around the ball however.
As I always, I like to disclaimer these breakdowns. Each player is graded as a pass or fail on each play. There is also quite a bit of assuming that goes on as far as the job each player has on each and every play. Here we go with the week 7 offensive line grading and breakdown.
Maurkice Pouncey - Pouncey was back on his game against the Cardinals and did a great job on young Dan Williams and David Carter. There are only a few glitches in both the running and passing game and he looked unfazed by his sore elbow. He did get caught up in some post whistle action in hurry up offense that caught the ire of Mike Tomlin. He had a few nice pancakes to the right in addition. He was good in recognizing and helping in the blitz and protecting the a-gap throughout the game. Not a perfect game, but certainly one of his better performances this year.
Marcus Gilbert - Gilbert did not look bothered at all by his shoulder problem. His footwork, leverage and use of his hands all looked strong. He did give up 3 pressures by my count and did not receive much help throughout the day from a running back or tight end. He and Ramon Foster still continue to work good double teaming when asked and switching off on stunts. He fully understands his assignments it appears. Not dominate yet in any one area, but he certainly does not look like a rookie.
Max Starks - Starks looks to have gotten past his own personal training camp now and looks like he is now in football shape. I have him as allowing one pressure and one hit. He had an excellent cut down block on the backside of a run. His balance when sliding left in pass protection was shaky a few times, but he recovered nicely. You did not hear the name of Joey Porter too much on Sunday and Calais Campbell was kept fairly quiet in addition. Really consistent play by Starks, but still not the most nimble on his feet out in space and he never will be. Has problems getting low enough on the move due to his size. Not surprising at all.
Ramon Foster - Foster was fairly solid in the first half and solid most of the day with his run blocking. As mentioned above, he works real well with Gilbert in double teams, as he should. Most of his pass protection problems were on twist and blitz pickup. I have him as 2 pressures allowed on the day and 3 other pass protection glitches. His mobility out in space remains a negative with him as he hardly hits his mark as linebackers and safeties just dance right around him. Although down in the list this week, it was not an awful showing.
Chris Kemoeatu - Kemoeatu was pretty awful Sunday and I do not know how else to put it. He had two key penalties on an early drive that stalled it. He needs to stop taking the cheap shots. He no longer has the short area quickness he once had pulling right and failed to finish on an early one as the defender just bounced right off of him. A few times he was just plain late and on one molly pass block to the right he failed miserably. One sack and 3 pressures allowed and he they missed a 2 point takedown on him in pass protection or he would have had 3 penalties on the day. His failure in the run game really hurt a few times despite being backside. Problems in both the A and B gaps at times in pass protection. The Steelers really need to get Doug Legursky healthy and back at left guard as he is much more consistent.
Skill Positions - This week David Johnson and Weslye Saunders combine for 3 pre-snap penalties first and foremost. Saunders run blocking has come a long way though and I noted that in my notes. Heath Miller and Hines Ward were as not good as they normally are and Ward was blown up early on by Adrian Wilson inside on a run. Blitz pickup by the running backs was pretty average as a whole.