Too Soon to Be Certain About The Steelers O-Line

By Jeremy Hritz

The pressure is now on Mike Adams.

With the most recent piece of breaking news regarding the Steelers’ offensive line, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Ed Bouchette reported that according to a source close to the organization that the rookie from Ohio State will be given the opportunity from the outset to man the left tackle position, a pretty heavy lift for a rookie accompanied by a bit of baggage.

Now, heading into camp, a clear picture of who will play where has come into better focus, at least for the time being, as it has yet to be determined whether or not the rookies who will now assume starting roles will be able to learn Todd Haley’s comet of a playbook.

Regardless, one thing is unquestionable: there will be a great deal of pressure on this group to perform. With all of the quarterback sacks surrendered at the hands of the likes of Jonathan Scott and company, there has been a palpable amount of pressure on the Steelers organization to put together an offensive line competent and capable enough of protecting Ben Roethlisberger and providing running lanes to improve what has been a lame ground game. Over the past two years, the Steelers have done just that in drafting Maurkice Pouncey in the first round in 2010 and Marcus Gilbert in the second round in 2011. And this year, they elevated their commitment by selecting what many consider to be stud offensive linemen in David DeCastro and Adams. Throw in one Willie Colon at left guard and the result, at least on paper, is what can be a solid if not elite offensive line. But championships, as former Steelers’ safety Lee Flowers would probably tell you, are not won on paper.

There are many questions yet to be answered about whether or not the 2012 version of the Steelers offensive line can live up to its billing outside of the predictable ones such as can Adams and DeCastro being able to step in and meet the Mike Tomlin standard?

And what about Colon? Will his transition to left guard be as smooth as media and fans believe it will be, as playing an interior line position is much different from being on an island at tackle? Additionally, the questions regarding his durability will not dissipate until he proves that he can make it through a season, or even a game without injury. The same questions are there for All-Pro center Pouncey who in his first two years has struggled with high ankle sprains. Will the ankle issues hinder him again in 2012?

If all of the players can stay healthy, it will go a long way in at least providing for opportunities for the offensive line to gel and gain some consistency. Yet the other question to consider is whether or not there will be chemistry between the starting five, and if Pouncey and Colon can provide the leadership necessary for this line to develop.

With the luck that the Steelers have had with the offensive line over the last several years, it appears that the unit could be on the precipice of a major improvement. However, until all of the players line up and mix it up in camp and in the preseason, it is difficult to accurately predict how things will actually play out. At least going into 2012, there is optimism surrounding the offensive line, which is something that has been missing since the early part of Roethlisberger’s career.

  • Why does this site so often send us to a secondary format that doesn’t allow those of us with TV’s for monitors to increase the text size to something readable?

  • SteelersDepot

    like a mobile format?

  • LucasY59

    yeah, it seems to randomly switch to mobile format when you are not using a mobile device?

  • SteelerDave

    We all know Adams made mistakes but he has the opportunity to play for the Steelers and I honestly believe he will do nothing but focus on becoming a pro and leave his childhood ways behind him. Adams has the ideal size and skill set, though raw, to become a great LT – if he fully dedicates himself. Putting the pressure on him from the outset might just be what he needs.

    DeCastro is a true stud at RG, he allowed one sack in his college career, is an amazing pulling lineman and by all accounts an excellent pulling run blocker. His sole weakness may be straight ahead bull blocking but he will improve upon that aspect with time. He very well could be rookie of the year and should have numerous pro bowls in his future.

    Colon, if healthy, can make an excellent LG a position he has always been more suited for than RT.

    Adams-Colon-Pouncey-DeCastro-Gilbert will make for a great O-line once they gel.

  • Intropy

    It does that maybe 20% of the time for me too.

  • SteelersDepot

    Let me know if this continues. Made some changes tonight.

  • SteelSpine

    I wish Tomlin would do Steeler fans a favor before the season starts via say during an interview: “Learning a new playbook will NOT be any excuse for this season!”

    That’s because I hate it when after a first season of a new playbook some people use the had-to-learn-new terminoligy as an excuse for that previous entire season. Implying changing terminoligy buys a season of mediocrity on offense, sets a bad precident. Because no tellin how long Haley will last here. Haley has a volatile history with receivers who trashed him by saying he didnt understand football enough because he never played it. So tho his father having coached here a long time gives him an “in” with ownership, there’s no tellin when we’ll have to go thru this all over again with a new OC.

    I know this change in playbook doesnt apply much to our OLine because previous blocking terminology was kept. But any time I read players etc say how hard it is to learn Haley’s new terminoligy, that reminds me of our own offenses prior to Bruce Arians & Chan Gailey (been that long since our playbook now changed), after each season back then I read having changed offensive coordinators was an excuse for the offense’s whatever previous season. I know Ben isnt (gulp) Kordell (heheh), & Ben is at-least wise enough to say he read the playbook. But I hope after this season ends people won’t use the having-changed-Coordinators excuse for our offense. One thing we dont have to worry about is SteelersDepot; SteelersDepot authors are smart & thankfully show now bias – they won’t need to be spin-doctors for the Steelers. Thanks for this website!

  • SteelSpine


    An offensive guard being Rookie of Year tho is extremely unlikely regardless of how solid DeCastro might play this year. Better chance though would be pro bowl as a rookie like Pouncey did. Never know. (I recall John Reinstra was a great guard we drafted in 1st round who became injury prone in pros thus flamed out. Odds are DeCastro wont be Reinstra.)

  • PoKey21

    There is certainty though, just depends on how you look at it. For instance, this is Certainly a better group of offensive linemen than what we started with last year.

  • PoKey21

    Its all about what a player puts into it. Anyone is capable of learning the playbook, just a matter of perseverance. If by mid-season a player is still struggling to learn the playbook let him sit out a week or two to learn it. I bet he would start to pick it up then. Its a job requirement. A job in which they get paid millions to know these things front and back. I would guess a lot of them will pick up on it quickly.