Below is the week 8 offensive line breakdown for the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Washington Redskins Sunday at Heinz Field. I apologize for the delay in getting this up, but it took forever for the All-22 version of the game to get loaded up on the NFL.com website this week, and there was no way I was going to grade without it.
The All-22 view justified exactly what I saw on the regular television version of the game. The offensive line put together an excellent performance with only very minor mistakes. Should the group continue to play at this level, it is scary to think about the problems they will cause other teams moving forward as they really are starting to gel right now. Let\’s hope that gel is the long lasting variety.
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Ramon Foster – With the way that Foster is playing right now, there is absolutely no reason to rush back rookie David DeCastro from his knee injury. The run fails were very hard to give him and his pass protection was perfect. The time or two he had a man try to come across his face, he effectively mirrored and walked him past the pocket. He keeps a nice solid, square base, reaches well and anchors his body and feet really well right now. He understands his angles and double teams good with both Mike Adams and Maurkice Pouncey. He will slip off at times, and is still not fluid at pulling left, but his play right now is way above the line.
Willie Colon – Once again Colon was very physical and he made it through another game without a penalty. Minor slip off fails in the run game and I might have graded him too tough on those. Honestly, it was tough to pick out many glaring negatives in this game all the way around. Colon continues to double team very well and his effort at the second level was solid. His pulls right were good, but often times the hole was not big because of failed blocks by Heath Miller on the edge. Believe or not, Miller is still is not perfect at times in the run blocking department. Colon had a few pancakes to his credit and he had a hole open for Jonathan Dwyer on an early goal-line run that the running back missed. The quarterback pressure was minor, and he was always looking to help Max Starks when he was not rushed.
Mike Adams – Another solid game by the rookie, who is finally using his arms and his legs in unison. Adams looks like a much different player on the right side than he did on the left side during the preseason. The lone pressure that Adams allowed was a result of him allowing hands inside his frame and thus he lost the leverage war. That is going to happen every now and again. He protected the edge very well in this game and was assignment strong. Adams again worked well on the double teams with Foster and blocks down inside very well. His athleticism was present on the direct snap play to Chris Rainey, but he really should have finished off the block down the field as it might have resulted in a touchdown. A minor slip off here and there and that was really it. It is going to be real hard for Marcus Gilbert to get his starting job back whenever he is healthy and the experience that Adams is gaining right now is priceless. Let\’s see if he can make it three in a row this Sunday against the New York Giants and defensive end Justin Tuck.
Max Starks – Starks is quietly putting together a very solid season at left tackle On a 3rd and 1 play he was pushed backwards at the snap and had one other minor slip off that I noticed were he didn\’t hold an inside block long enough. He did allow a hit on Ben Roethlisberger in the game as he fell for a fake outside and was dipped under back to the inside. Hey, he is not perfect. The other pressure that Starks allowed he fought all the way as he had allowed hands inside his chest and was walked back. To his credit he did have a nice cut on the screen pass to Baron Batch. Starks is often left on an island and handled it well once again in this game. Is he ready for Jason Pierre-Paul this Sunday? We shall see.
Maurkice Pouncey – The pass fail for Pouncey came on the screen to the left side to Rainey as he was late getting out to the linebacker, who ended up blowing up the play. He was pushed backwards at the snap two times by my count and that disrupted those run plays. He also failed to turn his man on another. It is hard to believe that Pouncey would grade out at 93% and be the bottom man on the grade list. Overall it was a solid performance coming off of a missed game and his knee showed no ill-effects.