Season Of Change – O-Line No Longer Offensive

After two straight seasons of equivalent wins and losses, it’s certainly no surprise that the front office of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been busier and more active than usual in their efforts to reshape a middling roster into a true competitor.

The past few months could be fairly described as a season of change amid the shifting fates of a franchise that had just been to the Super Bowl three times in the very recent past. It may well be that past success that has helped drag them down of late.

Of course, selecting late in the draft annually doesn’t help, nor do the big contracts going out to the players that helped you reach that success. But the true death knell has been an unwillingness to recognize when to let go.

The Steelers had hoped to hold together that championship core for a while longer, but the last two seasons have been the wake-up call necessary to introduce the wave of change that we’ve seen this offseason, designed to steer the organization back in the right direction.

One of the biggest changes that at least appears to be coming for the 2014 season, and something that the team has lacked for years, will be the ability to put the five best offensive linemen on the field at the same time.

The Steelers thought they were able to do that last year, but of course center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the season just eight snaps into the first game.

Beyond that, it became readily apparent during the first quarter of the season that Mike Adams was not the team’s best option at left tackle. That situation had to be remedied, and he was pulled from the lineup after four games.

If Adams has his way, of course, he will factor into the starting lineup at one of the tackle positions by the time the preseason winds down to a close, though the right tackle spot may be his more realistic target.

What is clear though is that if he does find himself in the starting lineup for reasons other than injury, it will be because he’s shown himself to be the team’s best available option at the position. They’re not likely to make the same mistake twice after seeing what happened last year, so if he wins a job, he’ll have truly won it.

As it stands now, though, Adams is of secondary concern, because Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert are the two starting tackles.

Gilbert is entering his fourth season, having been the primary right tackle pretty much since the second game of his career. Though he’s never been great, he has more often than not been an adequate player who must stay healthy for a change.

Beachum, meanwhile, transitioned into the starting lineup last year, starting 11 of 16 games at left tackle and gradually growing into the role. Though he may be somewhat physically limited, he is an intelligent player with a chip on his shoulder. He is determined to prove that he can be the answer at left tackle, the last one that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will need before he retires.

The most exciting aspect of this edition of the starting offensive line, however, is in the interior, where Pouncey and David DeCastro will work extensively together for the first time. Both players are more than capable of performing at a Pro Bowl level, and they should only feed off one another. That all depends on the line remaining healthy, though, which hasn’t been easy in recent years.

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

    I thought tackle would be a strength for this team last year with Gilbert and Adams finally playing like second round picks, but I was sadly disappointed. Gilbert was only mediocre/bad and Mike Adams was just terrible. I thought for sure if Velasco ever went down we were moving Kelvin Beachum to Center and putting Mike Adams at LT so when I saw Cody Wallace out there that told me they had more faith in Wallace than in Adams. In my eyes that says something.

  • Steelers12328882

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • James Miles

    The Steelers missed on their Tackle selections. They need to be in the market for a good left tackle and let tweedle dee(Gilbert) and tweedle dumb(Adams) battle it out at right tackle.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    I really would like to see Adams earn a starting spot. If he could earn himself the spot at LT, I would really be stoked. Him being there would mean we have a more than capable backup in Beachum who has starting experience should he be called upon. Marcus Gilbert needs to earn a paycheck this year. I hope Munchak is capable of doing what we’ve all been hoping for.

  • ApexSteel

    Beachum is good at LT. They need to move on from the other two though.

  • Jacque Strappe

    I’m not in the “Get rid of Gilbert” camp yet. Injury played a part in his performance last year. And if nothing else, you have to admit the guy played. With the attrition of the OL last season, that has to say something to play through it.
    Adams on the other hand, is a bust IMO. Had there been a healthy TE last season worth a crap he’d have never sniffed the field.

  • dgh57

    They could possibly let Gilbert walk as his contract is up after this season then move Adams to RT to take his place in 2015.

  • joed32

    Is it possible that Adams could become a guard? He seems to have good run blocking skills and he wouldn’t be out on an “island” in pass protection.

  • Jacque Strappe

    I think this has been discussed hasn’t it? I’m simply not a fan of Adams. And the offseason fiasco with the stabbing made it solid for me. I think they need to move on from him.

  • Leon Mcnair

    Adams is not bad