Ramon Foster Developing Into An Asset In Pass Protection

By Matthew Marczi

Because of his unheralded entrance into the team and his lack of pedigree, left guard Ramon Foster has by and large gone unnoticed amidst the attention and scrutiny paid the other linemen, whether it is due to their draft positions and expectations or the fact that they are expected to step in to replace somebody else.

No, Foster has always simply been the steady, dependable rock, never missing a game and always ready to fill in for an injured starter. It really is a wonder how many games he started before this season considering 2013 is the first year in which he was looked at as the starter.

While never a Pro Bowler, Foster has generally been a reliable and consistent performer along the offensive line, and has only gotten better over the years. Indeed, as a pass protector, he has really grown to be an asset.

In 271 snaps of pass protection, Foster has given up two sacks, one hit, and five hurries in half a season. In Pro Football Focus’ data, that is good for sixth in the league in terms of Pass Blocking Efficiency among guards, trailing only the likes of Louis Vasquez, Josh Sitton, and Larry Warford.

Though his slightly negative run-blocking grade drags him down a bit, the site grades Foster’s pass protection out at 5.8, which is tied for the seventh-highest in the league. Still, thanks in part to his clean play, even his overall grade places him 12th among guards. Coming off a one-hurry game against the Patriots, Foster has really blossomed into a leader for the linemen both off and on the field.

Foster spent a good portion of the afternoon lined up over defensive tackle Chris Jones, who graded out the worst of either team as a pass rusher. When he gets handled like this in isolation by Foster, it is hard to earn your keep against the pass.

All the while, Foster was charged with watching Ben Roethlisberger to signal to center Fernando Velasco when to snap the ball in an effort to combat the crowd noise. And it would only be a couple minutes later that this quality one-on-one protection would help lead to Roethlisberger’s 200th career touchdown pass.

The 201st was a bit more adventurous, however.

Off the snap, Foster was charged with watching the linebacker to assure that he dropped into coverage rather than rushed, which left Velasco on Jones. After the linebacker dropped, Foster was able to throw a chip Velasco’s way before peeling off to help Kelvin Beachum knock Andre Carter past Roethlisberger.

The last touchdown unfolded in similar fashion, with Foster chipping on the defensive tackle until he was confident Velasco had control, only to peel off and work the defensive end. Once again, Jerricho Cotchery was on the business end of the pass behind the strong pass protection.

With Foster and David DeCastro, the Steelers have two of the better guards in the league, and it is the strength of their offensive line. While DeCastro leans somewhat more to run blocking, Foster has carved a niche for himself as a pass protector more befitting of Alan Faneca’s spot at left guard than Chris Kemoeatu ever was. If only he could pull like Faneca as well.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Lamarr56

    Very good blocking by Foster. I really think that our rag tag group of lineman wouldn’t be so bad if we had the same five out there. Blocking with someone your comfortable next to can not be overstated enough. The chemistry you build with the guy next to you is vital. If we had our best five out there healthy, they would gel as a unit and block much better.

  • steeltown

    We have a solid interior with DeCastro, Foster, Pouncey and now Velasco, who should be re-signed (if the FO is smart) to play C, backup Center or OG

    Foster is the “lunch pail” player that every Teams need, same could be said for guys like Cotchery and now Dwyer. Ive always thought Foster doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done. He isn’t always flashy and he has been beat by better DL players but overall he is pretty consistent and you cant argue with his dependability

  • steeltown

    I read an article regarding an injury report this past week for the Minnesota Vikings, the article talked about how they might be without an OL player for Thurs nights game.. the article went on to say it would break up an OL group that has started every game together since the beginning of 2012 ….wow, I cant even begin to imagine how nice that would be

  • dgh57

    What I have always liked about Foster the most is his versatility/durability and the fact that he has picked up his game makes him even more valuable. He’s smart also in that he’s helping Beachum out on pass plays something that should come in handy come the Bills game and their pass rush.

  • JohnnyV1

    A team isn’t comprised solely by probowl players who make splash plays. Guys like Ramon Foster are essential on great teams. We just need more of them. And it’s even better that he was undrafted, not much expected, and he just kept coming to work, playing where he was asked, and playing solid football. Now lets find some more!

  • charles

    Prototypical Steeler. Quietly the offense is developing this season to be playoff caliber. Hat has to be off to Haley and his protege Bicknell. Maybe we could recruit Kc’s DC next. Or maybe just their D line coach and LB coach. Tomlin becomes DC, Haley HC.

  • SumnerYoung

    This is very encouraging. Foster doesn’t seem to have much athleticism in the pull game, but Pouncey and Decastro do which is good. Foster has very long and strong arms and when he gets locked onto a d-lineman he controls them. I went back and looked at the game breakdown article from the Raiders game ’cause I remembered a lot of pressure came up the middle on stunts. I thought Foster must have had a bad game then, but I forgot he was injured for most of that game and they had Cody Wallace and Beachum taking turns at various positions including LG. So it seems Foster is exonerated. The o-line will have a tough test against the Bills d-line tomorrow. It’ll be good to have Decastro back in the mix.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Haley isn’t meant to be a Head Coach, he is meat to be a coordinator. and i highly doubt we switch HC anyways, if we do it’d be if Cowher decided to comeback.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    If we draft Mathews in the 1st round our OL would be Mathew, Pouncey, Velasco, DeCastro and either Gilbert, Beachum or Adams with Foster as a back up…that is a awesome OL.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Foster has done well at a couple positions, primarily because, I believe he has the proper mind set and demeanor. I doubt he will ever be an all pro but I do think he , of all our ol men is the best suited to be what they are trying to make out of Beachum, a quality jack of all trades. I think if the Steelers can find the Best olt in the draft or free agency , let all the other tackles compete for the rt job, keep Valasco at center, bulk up Pouncey and move him to olg, with Decastro coming along at olg, and have Foster as out number 6 olman , which means he will be able to play quite a bit at more positions and do well . Some may think he can’t play ot but I think he can, I am sure at some point in his career, college,etc. he has. Nothing else seems to be working, the key is to find that quality olt. I think it would do wonders for our zone blocking if it is maintained as well as our pass pro.