By Matthew Marczi
As others have mentioned, Pittsburgh Steelers left guard Ramon Foster quietly had a very solid year in his first full season having entered the process as a starter. As it currently stands, in fact, it would be fair to say that Foster has emerged as the team’s best pass protector, a fact that Pro Football Focus also recognizes in their grading.
Foster did nothing to damage that reputation in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns. In fact, he had one of his best all-around games, as he also made significant contributions in the running game, even on the pull every so often.
Speaking of Foster pulling, this pull early in the second quarter saw Foster move reserve linebacker Darius Eubanks out of the hole and led to a big 15-yard gain for running back Le’Veon Bell.
Pulling is something that had not exactly been a highlight in Foster’s bag of tricks earlier in his career, as the former tackle has never been the ballerina of the offensive line meeting room. He lost some weight in the offseason though, and did see his game improve somewhat due to added agility, as seen on this pull.
That agility also shows up in this mid-third quarter carry by Bell. The play began with Foster and Kelvin Beachum doubling up on nose tackle Ishmaa'ily Kitchen with Foster peeling off to pick up D’Qwell Jackson. The problem is that Beachum wasn’t able to maintain the block on the nose tackle, so it limited Bell’s gain to five yards.
Foster showed off his football IQ on the following play with the Steelers facing a third and long situation. Defensive end Armonty Bryant and outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo worked a crossing stunt, but both Foster and Beachum were on the ball and picked up the two rushers crossing paths. Foster stoned Mingo and forced him to turn upfield as Ben Roethlisberger completed a first down pass to Antonio Brown.
Foster wasn’t done though, as his block on Billy Winn after the first down let Bell cut up into the B Gap for a nine-yard gain on a drive that eventually culminated in a Shaun Suisham field goal.
Foster did a nice job of standing Winn up at the point of attack, and did his best to reel him in as he lunged to the right at Bell. Foster did just enough to let Bell squeak through into the secondary as he helped lead Bell to a 90-yard rushing day at 4.5 yards per carry.