Below are my offensive line grades and breakdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-7 preseason game win Saturday night against the Buffalo Bills. I always like to disclaimer that not knowing the exact play call and assignments on each play makes it tough, especially with the normal TV angles. The All-22 look is not available until the regular season begins and that will make grading the offensive line and every other position much easier at that point. Each lineman on each and every play is watched 5 times at least and sometimes more.
Overall I thought it was another good night for the offensive line. Make no mistake that this unit will certainly miss David DeCastro, but they can win with the starting five right now as long as Ben Roethlisberger stays upright.
Below are some quick and dirty write-ups due to time constraints.
|PLAYER||# TOT||+||–||TOT %||# RUN||+||–||RUN %||# PASS||+||–||PASS %||S||P||H||F|
Trai Essex – By far his best game of the preseason with all of snaps coming at right tackle. Much better footwork in pass protection this week. He played with a sense of urgency. Not the fleetest of foot on the move, but knows his target. Much better use of his hands this week.
Maurkice Pouncey – Another great game for Pouncey, especially considering the two good defensive tackles he faced. He was flagged for a hold on Kyle Williams which negated a big run. Overall he was sound and still looks healthy.
Max Starks – Very good first game back for Starks. Early on, it looked like he was playing on a peg leg as he was not trusting that right knee on the field turf. He missed an early cut block, but it didn\’t disrupt the play. Technically sound and just needs to get more trust in the knee.
Mike Adams – Much, much, much better showing. Technically good sets and footwork to the edge. On one outside rush he kept his man outside with a good angle and behind the pocket. He is also getting a lot better handle on all the angles. Allowed his man to get his hands up on one screen pass, but the other team is paid to play too. His block on the slip screen touchdown to Derrick Williams showed nice movement out in space. Looked much more comfortable in this game and the knee did not seem to bother him at all.
Willie Colon – Colon struggled a few times in pass protection and was charged with 1.5 sacks. On the first one Williams slipped past his left hip very easily. On the second one he was put on skates by Williams and walked right back into Ben Roethlisberger. He did not look as fluid pulling as he did in the game last week and it was not his best effort run blocking. He did however have a few pancakes and one nice trap pull right that saw him stick a linebacker. Colon will be fine and the defensive tackle he went against is no slouch.
Ramon Foster – Fine in pass protection for the most part but charged with half of a sack on the play that Colon got the other half on as the two allowed Roethlisberger to be sandwich and forced to step into a sack. The other pressure he had his hands knocked right away and it stunned him. He will not be asked to pull left too often and this will be an area that the Steelers will miss DeCastro the most. He is just not that agile getting out of his stance and down the line and often looks a step slow. Run blocking was adequate, but he will slip off blocks easily at times. Overall it was the type of game we have seen from him in the past. Not dominant, but adequate.
Marcus Gilbert – Gilbert was slow on a few run plays cutting off the backside defensive tackle. He also has a tendency to not hold his blocks long enough and slides off easily at times. Needs to get lower out in space and it looks like he likes to reach at times. Overall not a bad game, but his first pressure allowed had him behind DeCastro and the two looked like they tangled legs. Not saying it was his fault, but it didn\’t help the situation.
David DeCastro – Allowed a minimum pressure on the play he was injured on as he lost a tiny bit of leverage on an inside slant rush by the defensive tackle. Pouncey tried to help and with Gilbert behind him his legs had no where to go. He will be missed.
Chris Scott – 6 snaps, 6 run plays and looked fine on all but 1 of them. His time is short.
Kelvin Beachum – Not good at getting off his first block at times which leads to him being late to the second level when asked. Lacks good technique inside at guard and outside at tackle and often looks like he is just trying to maul on every play. He does fight on each and every play and needs work playing in a phone booth, something that is still new to him.
Kyle Jolly – 6 snaps, 6 runs, 1 run fail. Thanks for playing.
John Malecki – He allowed a hit of Leftwich after a switch and loss of balance. Nothing spectacular about his run blocking but always plays hard and to the whistle. Has problems separating off blocks when he needs to, much like Beachum.
Doug Legursky – He was fine in pass protection, but saw him get blown up a few times inside. Some were a result of not getting good backside help. He is all about leverage and hand placement and if he gets neither and lets hands inside, he can be controlled. Overall not a bad showing, but this by far was not his best game.
Ryan Lee – Hard to judge his play with just 3 snaps, but looked good on one pull and was pushed back on one of the other running plays. All three plays were runs on the final possession. Still could be a practice squad candidate and figures to get a lot of playing time Thursday night. Don\’t read into much into his score as this kid has had a great preseason albeit against scrubs.