The Steelers have a slew of issues on this team, but fans piling on the offensive line is a cop-out to facing some of the real struggles.
I get it, the Steelers have struggled this season, and fans are justifiably mad about it. There seems to be a laundry list of issues that Pittsburgh is struggling with, and for the most part, the issues haven’t really been addressed this season. While there are a lot of issues with this team, fans unfairly pile the majority of blame onto the offensive line.
Every week it is the same thing. This offensive line is horrible, they wouldn’t be backups on any other roster, and just because of them, this offense is struggling as badly as it has. It doesn’t matter what the offensive scheme is or how anyone else looks, for so many in Steelers nation, the sole issue with this team is in the offensive trenches.
Let me be clear: this line isn’t that good, and my argument isn’t that this group is blameless for the less-than-stellar results of the year. That being said, every week I hear the same complaint: this offense stinks because the line is horrible. While the line hasn’t been perfect, they are not the sole reason this team has struggled as much as it has.
The Steelers line is an average group
The bottom line is the Steelers line is playing like an average group. For every good game that they have, they have an equally bad game. For the most part, this group averages out into the middling range for a line. PFF backs that up, as each lineman has a rating over 60, but no one is higher than 72.3 (that score belongs to James Daniels).
Unlike last year, this line is lacking a true liability. Kendrick Green was that problem last year. The line was a tick worse overall, but Green consistently getting blown up was a huge issue that made this line go from average to bottom-dwelling. This group isn’t there this year (thankfully) and blaming them for every issue is foolish.
In particular, both of the new additions have been solid. Daniels has been as advertised while Mason Cole has been better than I expected. While neither are superstars, both are stable blockers that this team can continue to build around. The rest of the line is less consistent but has had its bright spots.
The issues are far more spread out than just the line
The Steelers offense has been bad, and while the line is deserving of some of that blame, claiming they are the sole issue is childish. They aren’t forcing Kenny Pickett to stare down his top receivers and avoid the middle of the field. They aren’t forcing Najee Harris to dance around in space as opposed to running with power as you would expect.
The fact of the matter is, the line is an easy scapegoat so you don’t have to lump blame onto a player you like. Harris has this weird following that believes he is elite despite him not producing. He has a bad game; it has to be the line’s fault. Pickett is in the same boat, as few seem to want to admit that the rookie has played poorly this season.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m more concerned with players like Harris and Pickett than I am with the line. If both need an elite line to function, why were they first-round picks? Sure, both need a stable line to function, but the expectation of a first-round pick is to be good even if the team around him isn’t elite. I’m not thrilled that our previous two drafts’ top picks have performed so poorly.
Does the line need to be improved upon? Yes, but please stop blaming them for every issue this team encounters this season. The Steelers should have invested more in this group, but the line as a whole isn’t the sole issue on this team right now. Other players are struggling, and they are just as deserving of the blame that is being passed around.