Film Room: Alejandro Villanueva Settling Down

I’m not sure what it is exactly, but Alejandro Villanueva does not seem to get off on the right foot when the season starts. He did that last year, and again this year. But in both years, he has improved and tightened up as midseason approaches.

He put together a strong game last week against the Chiefs, and he was solid once again against the Bengals, though he allowed the only hit on Ben Roethlisberger on the day.

On the first play of the game, the end-around, he started out selling a right shift before working to the second level. He just engulfed linebacker Nick Vigil at the second level and then used nimble footing to turn and seal him out of the play.

Later on the same drive, he went at it with Michael Johnson, the two countering one-arm stabs to a stalemate, but Villanueva had already turned him out of the hole. Once he sensed Le’Veon Bell at his back, the tackle began to drive a bit, and the play went for eight.

It was at the end of the Steelers’ second drive that Bengals rookie Carl Lawson—and the guy I had mocked to Pittsburgh in the second round—got a hit on Roethlisberger. He really hit that one-arm stab and sent Villanueva stumbling up the field, drilling the quarterback on consequently off-target throw. Eli Rogers had room to run if this connected.

Early in the second, however, he did get to Cincinnati’s other rookie, Jordan Willis, hitting him with the chop that he has used effectively since pretty much his first game, knocking him off-balance and stumbling up the arc. This ended up providing protection for a 28-yard pass.

His showing on this particular play didn’t really have much to do with the result. I just wanted to point out that he kind of choked Lawson here. He tried to rip underneath Villanueva, but the Army Ranger wasn’t having it.

One big play late in the game was a key third-and-one stop. On the play, Villanueva did not adjust his wide set when Johnson shifted between tackle and guard, and the end blew the gap, as well as the play, for a four-yard loss.

Aside from David DeCastro because of the amount of movement that he’s involved in, I think Villanueva is the most fun lineman on the Steelers to watch. He still makes mistakes, but when he has everything working in unison—size, strength, athleticism, vision, film study, repertoire—he is as good as anybody in the game.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • budabar

    I would still like to see the team take advantage of AV’s receiving skills in the red zone

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Lawson looks legit

  • hdogg48

    We are going to need AV at his best in order to
    protect Ben’s backside.

    Ziggy Ansah is a handful and besides Clowney will be
    the best pass rusher we’ll face from here on out.

  • The Tony

    The good thing is that Ziggy has been limited all week with a knee injury

  • CountryClub

    really nice job of DeCastro and Hubbard passing off a twist on the McDonald catch (4th one down)

  • NinjaMountie

    I think it’s still his lack of experience. Though, that excuse can’t hold up past this season, if it can still be used at all.
    Honestly, I really don’t know what it is. I just hope experience will improve the situation.

  • AndyR34

    I agree on lack of experience, coupled with so few reps in OTA’s and TC as limited by the current CBA. Not many guys league-wide are ready for prime time come September. One of the reasons September football is so poor, IMHO.

  • blue

    AV lacks the punch and gets pushed in the backfield every game.

  • Matthew Marczi

    You’re not allowed to say good things about players on other teams without having an agenda, Paul.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He doesn’t lack a punch at all. He just needs to be comfortable enough to use it consistently. He can be very aggressive.

  • blue

    Idk what tape your watching!

  • Matthew Marczi

    The actual tape, including the coaches tape with the end zone view that is best for evaluating line play.

  • Steve

    In the last Gif might have helped if Foster would have helped block someone.

  • Steve

    Johnson was not bad either.

  • Steve

    Noticed that also and actually Hubbard did a good job.

  • Steve

    There has been many articles of AV chopping players to the ground.

  • blue

    Well give a fair honest assessment, instead wearing homer glasses. AV is average at best, lacking puch, anchor and quick enough footwork.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Good call..

    I have to say tho.. I’m not a fan that wants to see the opponent have injuries or bad luck so my favorite team wins. Truly, I’d rather beat them at full strength, on both sides, so the outcome represents the best each side could offer on a given Sunday.

    Towards that end, I don’t begrudge division foes talent – I just prefer the talent play within the scope of the game and not resort to illegal tactics. Lawson will be there for awhile. The cruddy people they have playing, likely will not.

  • pittfan

    how many sacks has our average at best LT given up this year?

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yeah, I don’t agree with you. Feel free to show me your work that demonstrates how wrong I am.