Below is the Steelers offensive line breakdown from the win against the Kansas City Chiefs this past Sunday night and it shows numerous pressures allowed even though there was just one sack allowed by the line on the night. There were also several holding calls in this game. Not a banner night by the offensive line and especially one that Max Starks would like to forget.
Maurkice Pouncey – If Pouncey was sick Sunday night, you wouldn\’t have known it unless you saw him doubled over in-between a few plays. He looked good before leaving with a stomach virus and I have him down for a fail on just one pass and run play each in 20 offensive snaps as he did allow a pressure up the middle. He seemed to get a good jump after every snap and was sound assignment wise per my play-by-play assessment.
Doug Legursky – Legursky went from left guard to center after Pouncey left the game and nearly all of his demerits came after he moved to center. He was about average in one-on-one match-ups in the running game at center and allowed 2 pressures in pass protection. He also was guilty of a holding call in pass protection as well. He seemed to have problems at times setting his feet quickly after snapping and getting his arms into the chest of pass rushers. He is a better left guard in my opinion than he is a center. We really did not see him on the move too much in this game. Not a bad game by Legursky, but not one we will remember either.
Ramon Foster – Despite his one sack he allowed, Foster seemed the most consistent Sunday night in pass protection and I only counted 1 other deep pressure allowed outside of the sack he gave up. He was flagged once for holding and that was another demerit for him. As far as run blocking went, I liken it to the game he had against the Patriots a few weeks back and he seemed to have a problem a few times getting off his first block to get to the second one. We did get to see him pull once to left that I remember and he had a nice bury on that play early in the game. I call this an average game for him, with some good strides made in his pass blocking. He still seems like the best option at right guard.
Marcus Gilbert – Had Gilbert held his block a half second longer on Tamba Hali on the redzone run by Mewelde Moore, Hali never makes that play from behind to cause the fumble. Outside of a few pressures allowed, I thought he was good in pass protection and handled Hali much better than Starks did. He did however get flagged for holding late in the game. He does a good job now following his man around the outside of the pocket when they try to beat him to the edge. A few times this had him finishing facing his own goal-line, but nothing wrong with that. You can see he has learned from his early season mistakes of not finishing in pass protection. His run game blocking was not as dominant as it has been the past few games and he must do a better job of holding his run blocks longer and finishing.
Chris Kemoeatu – Kemoeatu did not start of course, but entered the game after Pouncey left. Once again we see his run blocking is better than his pass blocking as I have him down for 3 pressures allowed. He did show how good he is pulling to the right with his trap blocks and that remains the strongest part of his game. If only the Steelers ran the Counter Pike play 30 times a game, he might be a Pro Bowler. Neither he nor Legursky are the long term solution at left guard and as I mentioned in my early draft needs post, I suspect one to be drafted in the first few rounds this upcoming draft.
Max Starks – This game was easily the worst that Starks has had since returning back in week 5 as Hali gave him fits all night. 7 pressures and a hit allowed by my counts and Hali did a great job at keeping Starks from using his hands effectively. Starks was flagged once for holding and once for a false start and got away with perhaps 2 more holds as he had Hali hogged tied up high a few times. Hali was good at changing direction and showed why he is one of the best pass rushing outside linebackers in the league right now. The run blocking of Starks was fine, but the Steelers also do not run to the left very often.
Trai Essex – Essex saw just one snap in the game as an extra tackle and it was the play that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit tight end Weslye Saunders for the only touchdown of the game. He rally did not have to help Starks out much o the play.
Skill Positions – Not the best game of the season for Heath Miller run blocking wise and this makes two sub-par performances for him in the last three games in this department. He also was guilty of hold that negated a long run by Rashard Mendenhall. David Johnson was also not on his screws in this game and both he and Miller were responsible for some failed runs to the right side. All three of the running backs did good in blitz pickup in the game and I wanted to note the nice block that Antonio Brown had in the game on one of the bubble screens. A hat tip to Roethlisberger as well for his peel back block. I do not want to get in the habit though of having to grade him for blocking though.