Steelers vs Giants Film Review: Marcus Gilbert Run Blocking

Last week was our first opportunity to get a glimpse of the supposedly new and improved Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line under the tutelage of Mike Munchak against the New York Giants. Reports have been suggesting that Marcus Gilbert has been his star pupil of sorts, in terms of showing improvement under his watch, and I believe that we saw some of that on Saturday night.

Of particular interest to me was his effectiveness in the running game, which has not always been his area of expertise. Generally a bit more of a pass protector, he was seen as a bit too timid—fair or not—to be aggressive in driving forward blocking for the run.

Gilbert showed that not to be the case from the Steelers’ first offensive snap of the game when he came off the ball strong and took off to the second level after helping Matt Spaeth by chipping defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. He was able to get square on former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain, sealing him off five yards beyond the line of scrimmage before he finally peeled off once Le’Veon Bell passed.

A few plays later in the drive, we had a bit of déjà vu, only it was LeGarrette Blount in at running back this time. Once again, the run went through the C Gap around the inside shoulder of the tight end, with Gilbert further ahead sticking to McClain. The first play picked up nine yards, while this one picked up a respectable five.

If you were wondering at the seemingly unusual frequency of snaps with the right tackle on the move, considering Gilbert is not considered the most athletic of the linemen, the following play offered a more traditional look for the position. On this occasion, rather than chipping him, Gilbert squared up with Kiwanuka and stalemated him at the line of scrimmage, though the run went to the far side of the formation.

Granted, it was no spotless performance for the fourth-year right tackle. One area in which he has struggled over the years is in cut blocking, and here he failed to do so effectively against the veteran Cullen Jenkins, who had the first best opportunity to bring Bell down before Jason Pierre-Paul does after a gain of only one. Not only that, Spaeth wound up as collateral damage on the play, tripping over Gilbert and freeing up linebacker Jacquian Williams to get in on the gang tackle.

Later on in the half, on his final drive of the game, Gilbert was able to get back to what he is more comfortable doing, squaring up with Kiwanuka. On the snap, he turned inside to get Kiwanuka perpendicular. Again, however, the run went in the opposite direction.

In all, the opening preseason game was a good one for Marcus Gilbert, heading into his fourth season, and the final of his rookie contract. While he had a strong all-around game in his 14 or so snaps, I believe his showing in the running game was more revealing of his progress.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • r8erh8er

    The whole online looks better. ..really pushing that dline. Will be nice to see that on the goal line.

  • steeltown

    I think Gilbert and DeCastro are going to be beasts on the right side this year.

  • Steelers12328882

    Yep. Along with Pouncey they are the future of this Oline. That’s why I think it’s smart that the Steelers are trying to lock up Gilbert now.

  • Steelers12328882

    Looks really really good with his run blocking. Super excited to see Bell and Blount run behind this line. Are there any film reviews of Beachum yet?

  • PA2AK

    They lock up Gilbert now and their (current) starting OL will be under contract for the next two years if i’m not mistaken. Really good to see him come off the ball.

  • dgh57

    Before the OTAs I had Gilbert walking after his contract was up. It’s still early in the preseason but it seems working with Munchak is having a positive effect on him.

  • Steel PAul

    I dunno. I really hope all of what we’re hearing is true.

    Looks to me like he’s holding on each of these plays. I see him miss a cut block badly and another player fall over him dangerously.

    I guess if he is not a liability that would be a help to the line, but I’m not seeing a lineman who’s light years better by any stretch. Hoping he continues to improve.

  • srdan

    The oline just looks more sure of themselves. The talent has been there, but leadership was lacking since faneca left.

    I love contract years for players. It’s a double edged sword, but teams and players reap the benefits.

  • walter mason

    46 holding first GIF

  • superfan

    No offense, but if that’s considered holding, than every block should be flagged. Gilbert’s driving his man backwards, and staying square to him. At the very end of GIF #1, Gilbert’s man turns a little bit and gets away, but that’s as the play is already past him. Gilbert releases quickly, and that will rarely get called on a play that’s 3-5 yards past the line of scrimmage.

  • Steel PAul

    No offense taken superfan 🙂

    I actually see the first gif as being the worst of the holding. The rest are as you say, typical garden variety. But the first one, I think normally gets called. He holds for too long after the play is by him.

    Anyway, main point for me is this is okay but I hope we see better as the pre-season goes on.

  • Matthew Marczi

    No, but there will be.

  • steeltown

    There’s holding on every play of every game in the trenches, it’s just how well you can conceal it

  • Steel PAul

    If the objective is to hold and conceal it, than I’m saying he needs to learn how to conceal it better.

    If the objective is to be able to block without having to hold, I’m seeing holding on these few samples.

    I understand run blocking has not been his forte, so maybe this is an improvement.

    I’m honestly more concerned with pass blocking. I saw him getting moved backwards in a hurry last year a fair amount.

  • Deebosgonnaeaturkids

    He almost took down Spaeth on the last GIF

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Foster was horrible on that first gif.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Never was a Gilbert fan but to his credit he is getting better. This is the guy I was hoping Munch could really help since he has the size. Looks like its working but we need him to be more physical.