By Matthew Marczi
Although Jim Wexell Tweeted out just prior to the game to look for Mike Adams at tight end, the fact that he actually played tight end—and significantly—for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Baltimore Ravens this past week was probably somewhat surprising to most people. Even I was somewhat surprised, and I had written about the possibility of it occurring a few days earlier.
It made a lot of sense, however, and it also worked well, particularly as the game wore on and he got more comfortable after sitting for a week. He even took a rep or two at right tackle when Guy Whimper briefly exited the game. As mentioned, however, there was a bit of a learning curve earlier in the game, as on this passing play:
Here he is lined up on the strong side of what will ultimately be a four-receiver look, with only him staying in to block out of what looks to be a running formation. The problem here is that he is not on the same page as Whimper—in fact, perhaps he was supposed to be blocking Terrell Suggs here, who comes in free.
But to make it worse, once Whimper hands off Arthur Jones, the defensive end pushes him aside as he approaches from a bad angle, forcing Ben Roethlisberger to heave up a prayer. Not a good-looking play. Fortunately, it does get better.
Here, Adams and Whimper are clearly on the same page, as they completely neutralize Suggs and push him so far downfield that he finishes the play on his rear end 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Of course, it helps when David DeCastro can be trusted to stone a defensive tackle in isolation. The only problem is the pass was incomplete out of bounds.
Here is the dastardly duo once again working in harmony to subdue the adversary, only this time it is Jones, rather than He Who Hails From Ball So Hard University. With a clean pocket, Roethlisberger completes a downfield pass to David Paulson. Unfortunately, an injury to Whimper on the next play briefly broke up the band, which thrust Adams way back into 2012 as the right tackle for a spell. That included this Wildcat run, on which he reminded us all of why we kept talking about his run-blocking ability last year.
Here, he is able to turn Jones completely out of the hole, which leads to a seven-yard gain for Le’Veon Bell. Two others end up making the tackle due to insufficient blocks by Fernando Velasco and Heath Miller, but the work of Adams and DeCastro had this play looking like it could break for a moment before the hole collapsed.
Bottom line, it was good, both for Adams and for the team, that the second-year lineman got some work in at tight end in this past game, as it got his feet wet again for game action. He even got thrown back into the fire for a few snaps at right tackle and, as shown above, held his own. He got off to a shaky start, but once he settled down, he proved to be a real asset, and I expect him to continue to be used at tight end until he wins or is required to take over a starting job at tackle.