Below is the week 5 offensive line breakdown for the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The short week has me a bit behind schedule so I apologize for the delay in getting this up.
This was easily the best performance the Steelers offensive line has had all season, even with the four holding calls. There were several nice lanes for the running backs and the pass protection was solid as no sacks were allowed in the game. The line wore down the Eagles front and they ran down hill it seemed for most of the second half as result.
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Max Starks – Unbelievable game. Starks allowed just two pressures around the outside with neither resulting in a sack. He has a much better feel now for Willie Colon beside him and he uses those long arms to effectively reach when needed. The Steelers left tackle is often left out on an island and he has no problems with it. Starks was helped by a tight end in the game and that never hurts. The wide 9 look that the Eagles play didn\’t bother him one bit. Turning his man out in the running game seemed effortless for Starks at times and I only found two run plays that I thought he failed on. Great game.
Ramon Foster – Foster is silent but deadly and this game tape is one for him to lock away in a vault to watch after his playing days are done. He and Marcus Gilbert really worked the double team well and I saw a very effective reach a few times to his right to help next door and control the gap. He also handed off nicely on a few stunts and dropped anchor very effectively when he would lose off of the snap in pass protection. His technique was damn near flawless and he looked strong as an ox. Foster had a masterful pancake on Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks and his blocks down to the inside were powerful. Foster has had a few above average games in the past, but his play on Sunday was much more than average. The Steelers don\’t ask him to pull left very much, and with good reason, as he is best used as a straight ahead power blocker. That is exactly what we saw on Sunday. A pressure and a hit in pass protection is all I charted to go along with a few minor run block fails. Best game of his career? Perhaps.
Maurkice Pouncey – If not for Pouncey trying to snap the football all the way to Philadelphia twice in the game he would have scored damn near perfect. Ok, perfect is a little strong, but once again the Steelers center had a very solid showing. His 3 demerits on passing downs come from the bad snaps and an allowed pressure. His run game demerits were not awful and a few of them came at the second level when he either missed a block or slid off too easily. Pouncey did a great job of getting off of the line of scrimmage, which often times saw him chipping to one side first. He continues to do a good job at feeling where the help is needed when protection is not slid heavy to one side. Pouncey is in perfect control on every play and assignment strong. He double teamed several times with Willie Colon effectively in this game as well. His footwork is amazing to watch and he very rarely lets hands inside his frame. he looks very smooth, and more importantly, very healthy. Solid effort.
Marcus Gilbert – Gilbert was very solid in the run blocking department. Like I have mentioned several times in the past, he works the double team with Foster well. Like Starks, Gilbert did get some chip help in this game. I have him allowing 3 pressures and 2 quarterback hits in this game. He also missed bad out in space on a screen, but did make up for it on another play on the move with a nice downfield block. The tackle will tend to lean back too much at times and thus allowed hands inside his body. Gilbert does chase well around the corner when he loses off of the snap and it helped keep Roethlisberger upright as a result. He understand his angles much better now and he has improved his balance. His groin did not seem to bother him in this game and that is a result of the bye. 88% is not a bad score, but he has better games in him when it comes to pass protection.
Willie Colon – The four holding calls is what everyone will remember Colon for in this game, but outside of those, I thought he played just above the line. Colon was much smoother with his footwork in his pulls to the right, but he still lacks the short area quickness you would like. He is a grappler and very aggressive, which leads to him holding because he hates to be beat. He worked very well with Pouncey on double teams, but will occasionally allow himself to vulnerable to the swim or a quick inside move. When put on skates Colon is able to hit the brakes and drop anchor more times than not, but this usually results in him being in the lap of Ben Roethlisberger. Unfortunately you can\’t remove the holding calls from the score and Colon must eliminate them yesterday as it kills drives.
Mike Adams – Adams played just 3 snaps when Gilbert was given a series off. I thought for sure he had messed up a knee on his very first snap as he was pushed backwards while on the ground at the end of the run play. His one demerit was a result of his man tipping a pass.