By Matthew Marczi
End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Marcus Gilbert
Position: Right Tackle
Experience: 3 Years
Although 2013 was the first year in Marcus Gilbert’s career in which he didn’t miss a game due to injury, it certainly can’t be said that he was free from injury. On the contrary, he simply suffered more injuries this season that he was able to play through, and it would be fair to say that the injuries did have some impact on his performance.
Of note is the first game against the Baltimore Ravens, during which Gilbert was forced to leave early in the game. Guy Whimper filled in admirably at right tackle after Gilbert managed to play just eight snaps. He also missed some snaps in two other games due to the Steelers rotating their tackles, but otherwise was generally out there on the field.
According to Pro Football Focus’ data, Gilbert was responsible for surrendering 11 sacks on the year, but his overall Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating was 93.6. He is also marked down for allowing five hits and 30 hurries.
I’m not convinced that those totals are entirely reliable, but there’s no question that Gilbert had some rough outings in pass protection. The first week of the season comes to mind, as well as a few down the stretch, such as the snowy game against the Miami Dolphins.
Gilbert isn’t particularly quick-footed, and at times it takes him a few steps to be able to anchor against a bull rush. The Detroit Lions game comes to mind. He is also able to be beaten around the edge at times and can be caught lunging rather than mirroring.
His run blocking is more of a mystery, because he shows the aptitude for it at times, as he did down the stretch this past season. He and the rest of the offensive line finished the year helping Le’Veon Bell average over four yards per carry in four of the last five games of the season, so that’s progress.
One thing to worry about is that Gilbert has a tendency to take his share of penalties, more of the false start than the holding variety. This year he was marked down for eight penalties, which is obviously a number you’d like to see cut down some.
With all that said, there’s still a lot of potential in Gilbert if he manages to put it all together. One factor that might be overlooked is the fact that he lost his best friend from the lineup in the season opener. Maurkice Pouncey was tasked to keep Gilbert focused in his rookie season, and I imagine that assignment has continued.
Aside from a healthy season, what can really help Gilbert in 2014 is having a new offensive line coach in Mike Munchak. As a technician, he should be able to help Gilbert and some of the other offensive linemen clean up some of their details. The fourth-year tackle has displayed some mobility and second-level awareness, so I expect him to be a good fit for more zone blocking next season.
Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller