Steelers Have A Top Half Offensive Line According To Pro Football Focus

By Matthew Marczi

According to Pro Football Focus, the Pittsburgh Steelers boast an offensive line that is—just barely—in the top half of the league. The site ranks their offensive line 15th league-wide with an overall grade of -0.5, which is the first negative grade on the list, with number 14 have a score of 1.4.

No doubt this ranking will have many fans of the team scratching their heads, as I did mine, upon learning of it. Admittedly, however, I do not have a solid basis of comparison, as I will be the first one to admit that I do not spend much time breaking down film of other teams’ offensive lines. The word of Pro Football Focus is not gospel, of course, but it does provide an interesting perspective.

The site ranks the team’s run blocking overall as 10th in the league at a score of 0.3. That particular grade, however, includes the overall run blocking grades of everybody on the team, and tight end Heath Miller’s impressive 3.1 grade skews the number significantly. The scores of others somewhat balance it out.

David DeCastro boasts the highest credentials among linemen for his run blocking with a score of 3.4. The only other lineman with a positive run blocking grade for the season is Marcus Gilbert—with a score of 0.2.

On the other hand, the site ranks the Steelers 21st in pass protection, which is no surprise given the number of sacks and pressures they have forfeited through four games already. Their overall score is -7.3, which, considering Mike Adams’ woeful -10.2 grade, is actually somewhat of an achievement.

The man that could be replacing him for now—Kelvin Beachum—has a pass blocking score of -0.4 in 86 snaps, but of course those snaps came from every position but right guard. Perhaps a consistent position will serve him better.

Ramon Foster has fared the best thus far in pass protection with a grade of 2.8. In 146 pass protection snaps, he has given up one sack, one hit, and just three hurries.

The Steelers also get a boost for staying clean on the penalty sheet. As a team, they command an overall grade of 10.5 on offense, which ranks fourth in the league. Just three penalties have been called on the offensive line through four games so far in 2013, which is a significant change from years past. The only other penalty was on Antonio Brown, who took his frustration out after an interception.

Does any of this mean anything? It is hard for me to tell. Perhaps the Steelers have a better offensive line, relative to the rest of the league, than fans are willing to admit to themselves, but the reality is that it is still not good enough to allow the team to do what it needs to do to win games. DeCastro and Gilbert are improving, while Fernando Velasco and Foster have been consistently average. Could it really be as simple as shoring up the left tackle position? And can Beachum be that guy?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • HarryBackside

    Exhibit #1 as to why PFF’s grading system shouldn’t be accepted as gospel.

  • ATL96STEELER

    No…not the gospel, but it echoes what I’ve been thinking for a while…the OL is not the reason for 0-4…Dwyer/Redman barely getting 3 ypc, yet LSH, & F. Jones are near 4 ypc behind the same OL…a new LT will help, but we need better, smarter play from the QB.

  • Nolrog

    I couldn’t disagree with this more. Ben barely has 3 seconds before the defense is on top of him. He doesn’t even have a chance to plant his back foot. There are many reasons for 0-4 and the OL has been right up there with all of them.

  • dollardoughtnut

    so much for that sites credibility

  • SteelerDave

    It would not be a sexy pick but I can definitely see us picking Matthews in round 1 next season. The down side being that in order to draft him we have to be a top 10 in draft order. He will definitely be gone by pick 11 so do we play the rookies, give up on the season and get our blue chip pick?

  • ATL96STEELER

    Not to spat with you…what you say is true. In part, everyone is the to blame, but not every down. I’ve seen too many times, Ben, pumping, looking and ultimately taking a sack, or lately throwing a pick when he could’ve thrown the ball away.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    PFF is just a nothing perspective for folks that want to disbelieve what they actually see. I know bad when I see it and it has come from every position on the ol, sometimes in the run game and a lot in the pass game, for one thing, does anyone really know for sure if these guys at PFF understand exactly what is going on with any football team, this isn’t soccer.

  • Eric

    I do not know the meaning of -1.4 or +3.1. I thoroughly understand 0-4, rushing for under 100 yards per game and a QB taking 4 sacks per game.

  • Marcus

    PFF, has absolutely no creditably for those in the know. I know a lot of sports writers live and die by it, but it’s despised by scouts and recruiters.

  • Mike Carroll

    Matthew – do you know the PFF grade for Levi Brown? I see Adams grade is -10.2 and just wonder how Brown’s grade (not rank) compares.

  • Callentown

    This is good to point out. It shows that PFF’s approach is far from reality. Grading out individuals is one thing. Grading out a team and putting them at 15 when the line has been unable to play as a unit, run effectively, pass block at all or stay on the field without errors just doesn’t compute.

    BUZZER – try again.

  • Callentown

    Nah, so many plays where a defender has a clean run right at Ben before he can set or make his reads. Even our first TD was Ben making a move immediately to avoid the rusher.

    This line is bad.

  • Callentown

    Dave we look like we will be in the top ten picks even playing all out!

  • ATL96STEELER

    Understand…I’m not saying the OL is not a problem…but you’re taking isolated plays where a defender has come free…that’s not the norm from the games I saw.

    Heck the second half against MIN, Ben had time to put up good numbers…another turnover sealed the loss. Again, I’m with you on the OL, but honestly, do you think P. Manning would have taken 15 sacks in 4 games behind this OL?

  • Mike Carroll

    I agree the RBs were a major problem, though I am surprised to see the line run blocking graded out as high as it did. I’m hopeful the running issues are a thing of the past as long as Bell stays healthy. Ben played well last week despite another week of horrible pass blocking. On the whole, I agree with Nolrog that there are many reasons this team is 0-4. Ben shares in that as does a defense that has been regressing fast.

  • Callentown

    *smile* Peyton Manning wouldn’t take 15 sacks behind my grandmother and her friends.

    I hear ya ALT96. My opinion is that Ben has taken so many hits and sacks that it is affecting his play – got a little bit into his head I think.

    Fix the line, and that goes away – IMO.

  • Fire.Mike.Tomlin

    As usual, PFF stats mean garbage. Football Outsiders paints a far more realistic perspective. Near worst in the league running at most ‘gaps’, (and not running often enough where we do well), and bottom 3rd pass protection.
    Consider me shocked.
    ———–
    Fire Mike Tomlin— NOW!

  • Mike Carroll

    Let’s make a more direct comparison where another respected QB is actually playing with the same type of line Ben has – Eli Manning. I’ve watched several Giants games this year, and under similar circumstances, Eli has looked terrible. Like Ben, he’s commited a ton of turnovers. But, unlike Ben, he is making barely any plays to help his team win games. Eli is taking sacks before he is even touched. He’s throwing the ball away left and right or just making bad throws, killing drive after drive. His team has been blown out 4 straight games now. Of course Ben has made mistakes this year, but he’s also played pretty well at times.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I like PFF, but they are missing the mark here. Without knowing assignments, these grades by outsiders can never be that reliable. Missed assignments and confusion within the line leads to many sacks that aren’t easily blamed on an individual lineman, TE, or RB.

    This is why I go to Steelers Depot for my breakdowns.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Top half of the bottom quarter at best might be more like it.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    I’ve said this before. PFF is a complete sham.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Your point being we could be worse off…agreed. I’m still behind Ben…I just think not all of his bad play is the result of the OL.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Agreed…lol.

    There are times when guys blow an assignment, etc. but I think Ben wants to make the big play, every play.

    This Bell kid could change a lot of things, and Heath being back…I’m encouraged more so than discouraged in spite of the record.

  • Richard Edlin

    Of couse it is … it’s a threat regardless of whether or not it is credible.

  • Johnny Loose

    Not a big fan of PFF at all. But I keep saying this O-line is very young and inexperienced. However, they have pedigree and I still believe they can and will be one of the best units in the game

  • HopalongCassidy

    Quality players usually show some signs that they have got it by their 2nd year. This very young excuse has been worn out. If they don’t begin to show some big improvement soon, it is doubtful they will get much better in another year or two. I would tell the O-line….find a way to get better now or prepare to find new jobs next year !

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    All this really says, is that the gap between the top 14 and the rest of the league, is huge.