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 will continue with the offensive line, which has seen about as much change as any position over the past few years.
Willie Colon was coming off a strong season in 2009 when he suffered a torn Achilles during the summer of 2010. As a result, he missed the entire season, leaving the Steelers scrambling for an emergency replacement that could last the season.
As it would turn out, Colon would only go on to play one more game at tackle in his career—at least up until this point—because after he returned in 2011, he suffered another season-ending injury in the opener. When he returned to the lineup in 2012, it was at guard.
Enter the one-year stopgap, former Dallas Cowboys tackle Flozell Adams, who played his career at left tackle before being asked to play on the right side for the Steelers.
As a matter of fact, Adams probably had the best season for a Steelers lineman that season outside of Maurkice Pouncey. While he drew more than his share of penalties, he proved to be an asset as a run blocker once he settled down.
His pass protection also improved as the season progressed and he became more accustomed to playing on the right side of the offensive line. But it proved to be just a one-year retirement tour for Adams, who hasn’t played since then.
In 2011, the Steelers drafted Marcus Gilbert, who started most of that season at right tackle as a rookie and played well, all things considered. Then they drafted both Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum, and each started at least five games at right tackle in 2012.
Gilbert was the first to go down, replaced by Adams. The Steelers had a strong stretch of rushing performances with Adams in there, but he too was lost for the year, and Beachum proved to be representative finishing out the season.
In 2013, Adams moved to left tackle and Gilbert remained at the right side. He started every game last year, but missed significant portions of several games due to injury. The injuries had a lot to do with his up and down season.
With Adams getting benched at left tackle, it seems that he and Gilbert are now likely to battle for the starting right tackle job, and it’s up to Mike Munchak to help turn at least one of them into a starting-caliber right tackle for a championship team.