The Pittsburgh Steelers have experienced an uncommon amount of roster turnover over the last few seasons, which just so happened to coincide with consecutive years without a postseason berth.
As a result, we’re finding an unusual amount of new faces in the starting lineup compared just to last season, when the season before already introduced several new starters.
The rapid turnover in successive seasons certainly has much to do with the organization’s personnel management over the previous years. Time, as always, came out the victor as they felt the ramifications of trying to hold together a championship roster that could no longer perform like one.
Considering how different the projected starting lineup for the start of the 2014 season is from just two seasons ago, I think it would be interesting to revisit the roster from the 2010 season—the last time the Steelers competed for a championship—to see how different this new team truly is.
We might as well begin with the offensive line, which has seen about as much change as any position over the past few years.
The Steelers began the 2010 season with the veteran Max Starks handling the blind side responsibilities. Starks was no Marvel Smith, but he did manage to hold down the left tackle spot with relative success for about half a decade, which is no small feat.
Still, he was a far more attractive alternative than the one they were forced to resort to midway through the season, as Starks suffered a neck injury that ended his season and thrust journeyman Jonathan Scott into the starting lineup.
Yes, Jonathan Scott was the last person to start at left tackle in a Super Bowl for the Steelers, in case you’d purposely forgotten. And yet, oddly, the Super Bowl was one of the better games he’d ever played, with the Steelers or otherwise.
That doesn’t mean the regular season went smoothly. He gave up six sacks that season, along with an assortment of hits and hurries, and his run blocking was generally worse. Worst of all, perhaps, was his penchant for drawing yellow laundry, netting 11 accepted penalties and two others that were offset or declined.
The Steelers have drafted three tackles since then, which helped kick Starks to the curb in 2013. The least heralded of the three—seventh-round compensatory selection Kelvin Beachum—now has the most experience on the roster at left tackle.
That’s where he played 11 of the last 12 games of the 2013 season, missing one game due to injury, and that’s where he’s taking his reps now during OTAs. He started at the bottom, and he’s been on a steady upward trajectory since.
The man that he replaced at left tackle, Mike Adams, may still have something to say about how the spot is operated this year, however. He is currently taking reps as the second-team left tackle, and has five career starts there, all of which came last season.
These young guys weren’t even around the last time the Steelers competed for a championship. Starks earned two Super Bowl rings with the team, and helped them compete for a third, even though injuries precluded him from participating at the end of that season.
None of these tackles on the entire team, in fact, were on the roster in 2010, which begins to show just how much this lineup has evolved in a relatively short amount of time.