Below is the week 15 offensive line breakdown for the Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday.
Sunday against the Cowboys was a good day for the Steelers offensive line collectively, but it was far from a dominant one. The run game demerits that you see all came on 6 plays so you get a sense of the scoring. Most of those demerits came via not holding blocks long enough and allowing linemen to come across face and into the lane to make the tackle. Outside of the short touchdown run, the Steelers front five never dominated the line of scrimmage as a whole in the running game.
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One of the David DeCastro demerits was him failing to hold a block at the second level as he was stacked and shed with ease. While the Steelers only pulled him left a few times, he did move smoothly and you would not know that he had a bad knee injury back in the preseason. DeCastro was beat inside for one sack, but outside of that I thought he was fairly solid in pass protection. There was one sack that was not charged to a linemen as that was a result of a free runner. On the play DeCastro noticed that there was a man free and tried to alert center Maurkice Pouncey to it, but the protection was never shifted to that side. DeCastro was assignment sound and they even used him to molly pass block outside the tackle on a few plays. I expect you might see a few more trap plays to the left moving forward. Overall he had a really good first NFL game and looked like he picked up right where he left off in the preseason. He understands and recognizes all of the stunts and games and knows how to properly handle them.
Pouncey was solid, but as mentioned above, you would like him to be more in control on a few of the running plays. Pass protection wise he allowed a pressure but that was about it. I would have liked to have seen him or Ben Roethlisberger change the protection on the aforementioned sack as it was obvious who was coming where.
Kelvin Beachum really is comfortable now and always plays through the whistle. He was beat bad inside by Anthony Spencer on the final sack which was a killer and allowed another pressure ion a simple outside stunt. A few other outside edge pressures were also allowed but neither were overly hard for Roethlisberger to deal with.
Ramon Foster was fine in pass protection in his first game back on the left side, but struggled with a few angles on a few running plays as well as failed to hold blocks long enough. See above. The Steelers did not pull him to the right on the counter and I had a feeling that if they did, it wouldn\’t be many times. He was, however, asked to molly pass block outside the tackles a few times and on one of those he gave up his lone pressure.
In case you did not know it, DeMarcus Ware is fast off the edge and hard to defend lined up wide. Just ask Max Starks, he will tell you. Starks allowed a handful of pressures in the game, a sack, and a hit on Roethlisberger, but it could have been a lot worse. Starks was able to cut him off several times, but did fall victim to the inside move as well. Because of his elbow injury Ware wasn\’t able to do anything more than be a speed rusher as he seemed not to be too interested in hand to hand combat inside with Starks, who was adequate in the running blocking department.
There was not a lot of running room for the backs in this game and something needs to be done scheme wise to get more spacing heading into next season. This line should be young and athletic enough next season to mix in some zone stretch blocking to provide space. Right now it is just a helmet on a helmet with double teams with the backs pressing and reading it and a lot of backside cuts that are relied upon the most.