Every Steelers fan out there would have loved to pick Mike Tomlin's brain as Pittsburgh came out of their bye week. With Dan Moore Jr. out against the Ravens in Week 5, Tomlin inserted rookie OT Broderick Jones in at left tackle, and he had an incredible game in his first career start.
There should have been no going back to mediocrity from here. But Tomlin wouldn't allow Moore to lose his job due to injury, and Broderick was back to the bench. In Week 9 against the Titans, Jones was named the starter at right tackle -- kicking Chukwuma Okorafor to the bench. Despite very little usage on the right side of the offensive line throughout his playing career until now, Jones had a very strong game in his first start at right tackle.
It might have taken until Week 10, but Mike Tomlin hinted in his Tuesday press conference that Broderick Jones will remain the starter at right tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. We all can agree that that rookie needs to stay on the field at this point, but Tomlin's plan on the offensive line has been questionable at best. Brooke Pryor of ESPN also noted that Jones is now listed as the starter in the updated Steelers depth chart.
Steelers are making some questionable choices on the OL
Let's backtrack a bit. As far back as my time in Latrobe for Steelers training camp, it was very easy to spot that talent gap between Broderick Jones and the next-best offensive tackle on the team. For this reason, I made the case that Pittsburgh would probably be best to start the 14th overall pick from Day 1 and take their lumps with the uber-talented rookie. This didn't happen.
What's concerning is that Jones might not have even seen the field at this point if not for injuries and reported disciplinary action for Okorafor. It took an array of circumstances just to have the talented offensive lineman start two games before Week 10.
Now I worry about the game plan when it comes to the offensive line. Is Broderick Jones going to stay at right tackle permanently? If so, Why? What has Dan Moore done this year to warrant keeping his job? For what it's worth, Moore is currently grading out as the 72nd-best OT among 77 qualifying players this year, per Pro Football Focus.
Instead of forcing the rookie to kick over to the right side, why not play him at left tackle and have Moore and Okorafor battle it out at RT? Didn't the Steelers draft Broderick with the goal of finding their future blindside protector?
All of these decisions at the offensive tackle position have been bizarre this season, and Steelers fans are constantly trying to make sense of what Mike Tomlin is doing. Regardless of where Broderick Jones ends up in the long run, we hope he can continue to make strides and be the best offensive lineman on this team.
As for Moore and Okorafor, those who studied these two guys enough know that neither is going to be the long-term answer for this team. From the very beginning, it seemed like an easy choice to plug Jones in at left tackle and let Moore and Chuks battle it out at right tackle. But the Steelers have gone a very different route. Let's hope it works out in their favor.