It is that time again as I have now finished the offensive line breakdown from the week 6 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the first half was not perfect, it was above average and the offense as a whole seemed to have good rhythm and jump early on. The second half was a different story. I kind of relate it to a NASCAR driver saying he had a great car until the engine blew up. if the car does not run good the entire race, the driver has no shot at winning. 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. The more you watch however, the more you get to recognize certain plays and duties. It is hard to make this an exact science not knowing so many variables, but some fails are pretty obvious. Here we go with the week 6 offensive line grading and breakdown.
Ramon Foster – While not as of impressive of a game as last week, Foster had a good game against the Jaguars and graded out the best by my breakdown. He had a fairly clean first half, but like the rest of the line, it looked like he ran out of gas late in the game and even had 3 straight fails very late. In pass protection he was fairly sound and did a good job of not allowing hands in his chest. He worked very well on the counter plays in the running game and had several good double teams with Jonathan Scott on several other running plays. He really is finishing his blocks well and looks to have better leg drive. We did not see him trap pull left this week. There is no reason, except for injury of course, that he should not continue to be the starting right guard from here on out as it seems he his hitting his stride.
Jonathan Scott – Not a bad game overall by Scott, but he still was guilty of a sack and a pressure on the day along with an illegal use of hands penalty that happened one play after the Maurkice Pouncey holding penalty that helped kill that drive and resulted in the Shaun Suisham miss. He still struggles to get his hands and feet working in unison at times in pass protection. He did look good in the run blocking department at times and teamed well with Foster on some point of attack blocks and was not awful out in space the few times it was really needed. He is much better suited for the right side than he is the left, but that being said, I expect Marcus Gilbert to start when healthy. That could be as early as this week against the Cardinals. We have seen much, much worse from Scott.
Maurkice Pouncey – Pouncey was the only lineman that finished well, but he too had his problems Sunday. He allowed 2 pressures by my count in the passing game and was flagged for a takedown once in addition. A few of his run fails happened when on the run to the right as he just was not out in front making the blocks he needed to. There were several plays however when he was in total control run blocking in the middle and driving his man out of the hole by turning him. This was not a stinker by any stretch of the imagination, but we have seen much better games from him, especially out in space.
Doug Legursky – Hard to really comment on a player that only saw 16 snaps, but Legursky looked like he was headed for a good run blocking game until he left with a dislocated toe. He did give up an early pressure and another pass protection error and his run play fail was when he failed to get to a linebacker in the second level. According to Mike Tomlin today, Legursky could be out a while and that is a shame as he is deadly on the move usually on those counter plays the Steelers love to run. Hopefully Chris Kemoeatu can stay healthy and return this week.
Trai Essex – For every great play Essex had he seemed to match it with a bad one. Upon entering the game after Legursky went down, he had an excellent molly pull pass block on the touchdown to Mike Wallace. On the very next offensive play he had an excellent counter trap block that freed Rashard Mendenhall for his big run. Essex also had a few more nice counter blocks, but had a few clunkers to go along with those as he was slow to the hole. Like the others on the line, he did not have a great last couple of series, especially in pass protection. He seems to struggle at times with simple twist. I have him down for giving up 2 pressures and not working well out in space outside of the few crushing traps on the move. This was not an awful performance mind you and he certainly seems to be a better left guard than right guard. He is what he is though and will have his ups and downs along the way.
Max Starks – It looked like the whirlwind finally caught up to Starks this week as he graded out the lowest of the linemen this week after a great first game back last week. He just looked sore and tired and certainly did not move well out in space when it was required. It just might be he needs to get back into a little better football shape and the adrenaline of last week wore off. He struggled winning a few races to the edge in pass protection and got beat once for sure on a simple spin move. He also allowed his man to bat down a pass. The last couple of series, like others I mentioned above, were pretty bad and this is when the sacks he gave up happened. Most of his run block fails were out in space. 7 of his 15 bad plays came late in the second half.
Skilled Positions – Heath Miller, Hines Ward, David Johnson and Emmanuel Sanders all had big parts in the early running game success. Wallace also had a key block on the Mendenhall touchdown as well. Miller and Johnson were not as thorough though in the second half, especially the fourth quarter. Like everyone else on offense, they just did not finish or execute late in the game, especially on runs on the edge. Isaac Redman was OK early in blitz pickup, but not as good latre in the game and allowed a hit on Ben Roethlisberger. Up until this week, Redman has been pretty solid in this area.