Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) celebrates a touchdown with guard Ramon Foster (73) and tackle Max Starks (78) in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers have received plenty of motivation this offseason to prove that they are better than the .500 team they were in 2012. One of the team’s most constantly questioned positional units is their offensive line, and left guard Ramon Foster had this to say about the unit’s critics in a recent article by Ed Bouchette of The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette:
"We want to be a good line, … Early this spring, Coach showed us a paper that had us fourth in our division as far as O-Lines. We’re looking forward to that challenge. We want to prove everybody wrong. It’s a lot better when you have a challenge."
Pittsburgh’s offensive lines have been “problem units” in recent years, so the Steelers’ starting left guard has probably heard heaps of criticism about him and the rest of his teammates in the trenches since he entered the league as a UDFA in 2009.
Between constant injuries and inconsistent play, Pittsburgh has been undermanned and outperformed along their offensive line for much of the last half-decade. Last fall was no different as guys like David DeCastro, Willie Colon, Mike Adams, and Marcus Gilbert all dealt with injury problems and struggled to play well when they were in the lineup to boot.
Unfortunately for the Steelers’ offense, the offensive line’s play has not inspired much hope with their inconsistent play during the preseason since the team installed more of a “zone-blocking scheme” under new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr..
The collective performance of Pittsburgh’s first-team offensive line throughout the entirety of the preseason was “spotty” at best, and the pass-protection of the starting tackles (Gilbert and Adams) could be problematic if they cannot improve. The penalty-laden play, put on display most notably against Washington, also needs to cease.
Poor performances aside, the Steelers’ offensive line does have one thing working in their favor as they head into the 2013 regular season: health.
With Adams, Gilbert, DeCastro, Foster, and Maurkice Pouncey all healthy heading into Sunday’s game against Tennessee, Pittsburgh finally has some continuity at their disposal with a unit which has played together since the spring. Make no mistake, all five of these guys are plenty talented. Pouncey has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in the league, while DeCastro looks like he could join him there soon.
Despite their recent struggles, it is promising to see that Foster and the rest of the starters have the type of confidence to fuel them to future success, regardless of what their most vocal doubters have had to say.
Although improvement will be no easy task for the Steelers’ heavily criticized offensive linemen, Foster and the rest of the Starters certainly want to make their critics eat their words with their collective play during the upcoming regular season.
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