Season Of Change – Swapping Tackles

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.

If the Steelers didn’t have big plans for the future of left tackle Mike Adams, they quite simply never would have drafted him. It would take quite a bit for a general manager such as Kevin Colbert to pull the trigger on a player with the red flags that he came in with in the second round without a strong belief that he would succeed.

It’s worth keeping that in mind when reviewing how Adams wound up as the starting left tackle for the beginning of the 2013 season.

As a rookie, Adams started a handful of games at right tackle, with mixed success. Namely, he succeeded in blocking for the running backs, but not so much for the quarterbacks.

But the coaches must have felt comfortable with what they saw from him during the offseason, because one day they simply swapped him and Marcus Gilbert and never looked back, even considering the fact that he was recovering from a knife wound.

Adams’ preseason performance wasn’t overly inspiring, but then again, neither Gilbert nor Kelvin Beachum seemed overly impressive either. So it was that Adams took the field in the season opener protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side.

We all know how the story developed from that point on, of course. His poor performance, particularly against the pass rush, was a crucial element of the Steelers’ 0-4 start to the season, leaving Roethlisberger constantly on the run and leading to costly turnovers.

The Steelers had already been experimenting through the first four games, giving Beachum a series here and there at either tackle position, so it wasn’t particularly surprising that, following the Bye Week, lineup changes were made, one of being to send Adams to the bench.

Beachum started 11 of the last 12 games at left tackle, missing one game due to injury, and it would be hard to argue that the team didn’t play better, going 8-3 in those games. As Beachum settled down into his new role, so too did the offense, even if he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire with an All-Pro-worthy performance.

No, Beachum simply got the job done last year, by any means necessary. And he will get the first crack at that job this year, one that nobody is likely to take from him.

It’s hard to say what the future holds for Adams, but the future doesn’t appear to be now. It’s crucial that the Steelers recognized this and were willing to change accordingly. It nearly salvaged the 2013 season, and should help get them off to a better start this year.

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

    I like our draft, I like where we are heading and I dont question most moves we make, That being said, putting Adams at left tackle was a mistake. If we suck it up and move him back to the right side, you have your future right tackle.

    He is not a blind side protector.

  • dgh57

    I think Adams will be a backup/spot starter this year and take over for Gilbert in 2015 when they let Gilbert walk after this year. Unless, of course, Munchak works some kind of a miracle on Adams.

  • Biggie

    Beachum has more than earned his way as starter at LT, he has been far superior to both Gilbert and Adams. Gilbert needs to keep improving to keep the RT spot and with the coaching of Munchak I don’t doubt he can improve. Adams has to show he can do more then block as an extra TE. He has ability but has at times look awful in games and has alot to prove. Competition is great to have. I am looking forward to seeing what Johnson can do as well as a versatile OL.

  • ApexSteel

    Adams was awful no matter where he was put. LT, RT, and TE

  • srdan

    he also has not had two consecutive seasons under one coach or a full off season. for someone that was considered “raw” coming in, htose are two big negatives. Let’s hold off on labeling him until the end of the year

  • steeltown

    He was given the Team rookie of the year award after starting and playing admirably at RT in his rookie campaign

  • steeltown

    Hoping Wesley Johnson turns into a solid player, I have no doubt Munchak had some say in that draft selection.

  • ApexSteel

    Patrick Bailey did too and just like Mike Adams he had almost no competition.

  • ApexSteel

    No, Kelvin Beachum was raw. Mike Adams was a second round pick and he hasn’t show anything that leads me to believe that this year won’t be like the first two. Ohio State fans told me the second we drafted him it was a mistake and he’s proved them right ever since.

  • srdan

    I think more of the steeler fanbase would agree with your point of view instead of mine. Let’s see where this year takes us.

  • steeltown

    Good point

  • ApexSteel

    Thank you

  • ApexSteel

    Fair enough.

  • whisn

    I for one still have high hopes for Adams. He came in a little raw and dopey, got stabbed, clearly wasn’t focused.

    But the tail end of last year we saw signs that the light was going on with him. He needs to show the willingness of Beech and add some tenacity, he is too soft, but then again Gilbert isn’t much better in that regard.

    I think Adams will be starting inn the near future.