How the 2021 offensive line stacks up against others in Steelers history
By Eric Hassel
The 2021 Offensive Line may have its work cut out for it to be considered one of the greatest in Steelers history
I don’t know about you, but when the initial 2021 Steelers Depth Chart was released, I gravitated toward the offensive line as I believe that the success of the offense will rise and fall on the ability of the ‘O-line’ to not only keep Ben Roethlisberger, our franchise and future Hall of Fame QB, upright but to ‘pave the way’ for our RB’s to reinvigorate a rushing attack that was feckless in 2020.
Full disclosure: I sincerely hope that whatever offensive line combination we open the season with is the same offensive line combination we close the season with. Continuity will play a vital role in our success. To take it a step further, I sincerely hope that the 2021 ‘O-line’ will be remembered as one of the greatest in Steelers history.
Frankly, I have reservations. On paper and according to the initial Depth Chart, which is most likely going to change a few times before we decide on what combination will begin the 2021 regular season, we have a first-time starter at LT, a second-year player at LG, who is probably better suited to play on the right side of the line, a center who was a back-up in 2020, a former Pro-Bowler at RG, and a RT who is coming off a season-ending injury in 2020.
So this may not bode well for the Steelers offense that will probably rely on a heavy dose of our 2021 first-round pick, Najee Harris. Don’t get me wrong, I really hope that is not the case, but as I look at this initial ‘O-line’ combination, I can’t help but wonder how they will stack up against what I believe to be the greatest ‘O-line’ combination in Steelers history.
The Steelers have had had some tremendous offensive line combinations but I believe this one is the best ever
So when I say, “…in Steelers history”, I am referencing the modern era because I only go back to 1978, which is the year my Steelers journey began. That year brought us our third Super Bowl victory and showcased arguably the greatest offensive line in our history.
The 1978 Steelers offensive line from left to right was Jon Kolb, a 4-time Super Bowl champ who never made a Pro Bowl, but was deserving, for sure, Sam Davis, a 4-time Super Bowl champ, who, like Kolb, never made a Pro-Bowl, but should have, ‘Iron’ Mike Webster, my favorite player of all-time, 9-time Pro Bowler, 5-time All-Pro and Hall of Famer, Gerry Mullins, another 4-time Super Bowl champ and another player who should have made at least one Pro Bowl, and Ray Pinney, a one-time Super Bowl champ and another player who was deserving of a Pro Bowl nod, in my opinion.
Truth be told, I think Dotson and Turner have an opportunity to become Pro Bowlers for us. The rest of the ‘O-line’ as we sit here today will be solid, I think, but probably won’t be remembered as the best at their positions. Again, I hope I am proven wrong. I hope that every player makes at least one Pro Bowl during his career and goes down in Steelers lore as one of the best to play for us.
As is the case with most topics we discuss, only time will tell how the 2021 Steelers offensive line will be remembered. For our sake, I hope the remembrance is a fond one.