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  1. #1
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    Default The O-line

    OK, I know there are plenty of posts about how our O-line sucks and I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here. Actually I have to give some credit to these guys for overcoming a slew of injuries and at least giving our team a chance to stay in the games.

    My question goes more to the team's approach to building an O-line. I watched the dvr from the Ravens game and something I've felt for some time really stood out to me when I could control the stream. These guys are big, lumbering football players but not that athletic. They are unable to sustain a block!!! It's no wonder our running game can't control a game. Every time I see a run play, the back is fighting the tackler while the lineman stand there watching. They can make the initial contact but can't move with the defensive player as he adjusts to the runner. Most blocks that spring Mendenhall come from a receiver sealing a lane or a TE picking off a blocker at the line of scrimmage.

    Same thing on pass blocking. Too many times they give ground in order to stay between Ben and the rusher, but simple moves by the defender usually get him free of the blocker.

    Now that may be simplifying things a little too much, but I'll throw out Pouncey as an example. He is the opposite. He has very good footwork and actually is able to move well enough that he can sustain his blocks. Faneca was another example fell into that mold when he played here. So where did this tree trunk mentality come from? Is this BA's idea or Colberts? Or Tomlins? What do we do going forward? Is this a philosophy that needs to be looked at? It's a shame that Mendenhall's career will be dictated not by his abilities but by the ineptitude of his Offensive line.

    Watching Brady last night really put the nail in the coffin. I believe it's as much NE's O-line that makes Brady so good as his own abilities. Imagine what Ben could do if he had that much space and time in the backfield?

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    Default Re: The O-line

    I was really positive about this years' O-line coming into the season, even/especially after losing Colon and adding Hotel. The injuries have been killing any consistency that this unit tries to conjure, particularly the loss of Starks. The addition of Pouncey was a godsend...he is BY FAR our best and most consistent lineman this season. His blend of brains, strenghth, technique, and athletecism are rare (he does however have a twin that is set to enter the draft next year!!!)

    That said, I do agree with you. I wouldnt mind a shift in mentality when it comes to drafting/signing lineman. D Lineman are becoming faster and more athletic, so you would think having faster, leaner lineman to counter that trend would be logical? But who knows?
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    Default Re: The O-line

    Not to be the racist here but have you seen a better o-line than NE this year?

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    Default Re: The O-line

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Jorgan View Post
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    Not to be the racist here but have you seen a better o-line than NE this year?
    They are 5 white guys, that is an indisputable fact.

    When was the last good o-line we had? 2005? Marvel and Max, Hartings, Simmons and Faneca...sticks outs. Then in 06 Hartings just broke down and Marvel got hurt and then left.
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    Default Re: The O-line

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Jorgan View Post
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    Not to be the racist here but have you seen a better o-line than NE this year?
    Regardless of "race..."

    It just seems that NE's OL is strong at the point of attack (which lends to Brady being able to, comfortably, throw the hot routes)... Meanwhile, our guys seem to be on "rollerskates" and BB seems to not be satisfied if his 1st or 2nd read isnt open.

    He (BB) likes to move around (which IS his game), and check "back" to his 1st option downfield after the coverage breaks down... It works every now and again, but it is not a strategy to hang a hat on.

    I'd like to see our guys do a better job at the point of attack!
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    Default Re: The O-line

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Jorgan View Post
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    Not to be the racist here but have you seen a better o-line than NE this year?
    I wouldn't mind seeing some more truckers along the Steelers O-line!

    Seriously, the Steelers NEED to address this area in the offseason obviously. It astounds me how long the Steelers have neglected this area of the team.

    I don't think the O-line has played that bad this year, all things considered, but an improved O-line will do wonders.

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    Default Re: The O-line

    Heres a GREAT Article about our O-Line!

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/wor...-new-team-town

    By Ben Muth:

    There aren't a lot of rules at "Word of Muth," but one of them is that when you fire your coach halfway through a season, you're out of the column. So goodbye, Dallas Cowboys, it's been fun. I'll miss Andre Gurode, watching him play was pretty enjoyable. With the Cowboys out, the Redskins on a bye, and the Cardinals losing in a way that makes me not want to watch that game ever again, I needed a new team to write about.

    Big cheese Aaron Schatz suggested I go with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I liked that idea just fine. The team is great on defense and has a mobile quarterback who can keep plays alive. By far, the team's biggest question mark is their offensive line. They are a lot like what the Cowboys were supposed to be this year. After one game, I'm already excited to have Pittsburgh in the Word of Muth rotation for the rest of 2010.

    The first thing that jumped out at me is the fact that Pittsburgh ran one Power play all game. (A Power play is a specific running play; a power play (lower case) is a general style of running play.) That seems insane to me. In the last decade, Power has been associated with Pittsburgh, like the quick slant was associated with the 49ers in the '80s. It was their bread and butter, pure and simple. First-year offensive line coach Sean Kugler is probably a big reason for this. Kugler came over from Buffalo in the offseason and is trying to change the culture after last year's struggles up front.

    The Steelers are running a lot more zone now, and I'm not sure they have the personnel up front to do it. The kind of personnel it takes to run Power is completely different then the kind you want to run a zone scheme. Pittsburgh's offensive line is big -- like, really big. The only starter under 315 pounds is rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, which makes sense because he was drafted after the change in philosophy.

    Everyone remembers the small, quick line of the Denver Broncos carving up defenses in the late '90s with the zone scheme and sub-300 pounders manning their positions. The Steelers may be wary of going that small, but having three key linemen weigh more than 340 (Max Starks, Flozell Adams, and Chris Kemoeatu) and expecting to major in the zone stretch scheme seems a little unrealistic. Still, after watching Rashard Mendenhall closely, I can see why the coaching staff wanted to try and make the change. Mendenhall looks like he will fit perfectly into the new scheme. Now the front office just needs to go out and get the guys up front that can complement their running back.

    The scheme may be new, but injuries up front have had a far stronger effect on the offense. Colon was put on Injured Reserve before the season even started with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Trai Essex has missed four games due to injury. Max Starks was put on IR with neck problems this week after battling injuries all year. Against Cincinnati, both Pouncey and Kemoeatu went down (Pouncey would return). This unit has been shuffled around so much it shouldn't surprise anyone when they struggle. But at the end of the day, we have a team that has put in a new scheme, has dealt with multiple injuries up front, has already used three starting quarterbacks ... and is still tied for the division lead.

    Now let's get into Monday's game against the Bengals. Since I've spent the last two paragraphs making excuses for the Steelers offensive line, it shouldn't be surprising that they weren't dominant on Monday night. Jonathan Scott's struggles at left tackle were the most obvious. He seemed to have a bit of a soft shoulder in pass protection, which allowed defenders to run around the hoop to the quarterback, forcing Roethlisberger to step up in the pocket frequently. He also struggled to get any kind of stretch from a defensive end in the running game. In his defense, it is never easy to get moved from tackle to guard and then back to tackle in a single game, like he was asked to do Monday night. But now that he is officially the starting left tackle, he will be able to focus on one position, which should help him improve.

    Both of Pittsburgh's guards, Trai Essex and Chris Kemoeatu, were average. Their biggest problem seemed to be climbing to linebackers in the running game. Both got fine movement on down defensive linemen and were passable in protection, but they were unable to engage second level defenders consistently.

    After Kemoeatu was injured, Doug Legursky came in the game and appeared to be a lot quicker than either of the two starters. In fact, I thought Legursky was giving the kind of performance that could win him a starting job. That is until he whiffed on the one Power (a single back shotgun version of the play) the Steelers ran all game. It was on a crucial third down in the fourth quarter, and the whiff forced the Steelers to attempt a field goal, which they missed. Those are the kind of mistakes that you cannot make when you are trying to usurp someone in the starting lineup.

    Flozell Adams and Maurkice Pouncey were an interesting contrast. Pouncey is a heavily praised rookie who was drafted to anchor a new scheme. Adams is a much-maligned veteran who was brought in as a stop-gap once the injury bug bit. It is easy to see why the Steelers staff is so high on Pouncey. He is athletic, shows great technique, and carries himself like a guy who belongs rather than a rookie. That said, I don't think he played particularly well. There were multiple occasions where Domata Peko knocked Pouncey straight into the backfield, disrupting any cutback chances Mendenhall might have.
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    Peko certainly looked too strong at times for the rookie, but that may have been due to the injury Pouncey suffered in the first half. Pouncey was great at climbing to the second level and decent in pass protection, but after hearing so much praise for him, I suppose my expectations were a little too high.

    Adams, on the other hand, may have struggled getting outside defenders in the running game (which is essential in the zone scheme), but I expected that going in. I was pleasantly surprised with how well Adams did in pass protection. If you were to grade the two, they probably played about the same, but I was more impressed with Adams because I wasn't expecting it.

    The Steelers did manage to put up 27 points, but that number is deceiving when you consider field position and a 39-yard touchdown pass thrown by Antwaan Randle El on a trick play. The Steelers struggled to move the ball consistently for most of the game. This was especially true on the ground, despite the 99 yards Rashard Mendenhall racked up. Mendenhall had three carries between 18 and 22 yards that accounted for more than half of his total production. Hopefully the current Steelers o-linemen can stay healthy the rest of the way so that they can gel as a unit. If not, Pittsburgh's Super Bowl hopes may be unrealistic.

    One thing Pittsburgh's coordinator did to help his zone running game was create additional gaps to stretch the defense. He would line up two tight ends and a receiver to one side to force the defense to deal with more possible running lanes. A big thing with defenses is run fits. A run fit is what gap the defender is assigned to if the offense runs the ball.

    There is always an A (between the center and guard), B (between the guard and tackle), and C (you should know where this is going by now) gap. When the offense has a tight end, there is another gap. By adding offensive players to the end of the line of scrimmage you add even more gaps, which means a defense has to adjust its run fits to fill those lanes. Now, not only are there more gaps for defenders to fill, but defenders are forced to play run fits that they aren't used to.
    Figure 1: Inside Zone Slice

    On first-and-10 with 12 minutes left in the second quarter, the Steelers came out in one of these formations. They had a single back with two tight ends to the right. The Bengals looked to have adjusted there down linemen a half man to the strength of the formation. By a half man, I mean that if the nose tackle was shaded to the center's left shoulder, he was now head up. And instead of a three-technique (outside shoulder of the right guard) the Bengals had a four I (inside shoulder of the right tackle). The defense also brought both linebackers to the line of scrimmage. This is to make sure their ends could fill their new gaps without having to worry about being hooked. The Steelers also brought Hines Ward in motion just outside the hipped tight end.

    The Steelers called up an Inside Zone Slice to the right, and it worked wonderfully. The backside defensive end saw the left tackle (Max Starks) step inside and came down with him to maintain his new gap (the left B). The nose tackle did the same thing against the center (but taking the strongside A). Because the nose tackle was so quick to vacate the backside A gap, the left guard (Legursky) had a free run up to the Mike linebacker.

    The front side guys kept their men on the line of scrimmage enough to allow Heath Miller to come across the formation and kick out the outside linebacker. Rashard Mendenhall saw everything develop, cut the play back, broke the safety's tackle (All plays have at least one unblocked guy near the point of attack, so Rashard Mendenhall gets paid a lot of money to make that one guy miss) and took it for a 20-yard gain. It was a well-schemed and perfectly executed running play. And a great way to end this week's column.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The O-line

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelTown1980 View Post
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    Chris Kemoeatu, were average. Their biggest problem seemed to be climbing to linebackers in the running game.
    Here is the problem... Kemo just isnt atheletic enough to do the job, that's required....HENCE, the egregious amount of holding calls...

    Although he may "look the part," he just isn't getting the job done! IMHO... I will support him throughout this "run," but he needs to shed some weight and work on his technique, if he plans on being an impact player???....just sayin?
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    Default Re: The O-line

    Totally agree man! Kemo is NOT the answer period! For what this team is trying to do Scheme wise they NEED another POUNCEY! hint hint

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    Default Re: The O-line

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelTown1980 View Post
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    NEED another POUNCEY! hint hint
    Waaaaaayyyyyy to soon to think about the draft, but I must agree!
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    Default Re: The O-line

    Scott is just horrible. If Tony Hills isn't any better than that they should just cut him now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sodfather View Post
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    Scott is just horrible. If Tony Hills isn't any better than that they should just cut him now.
    You are wrong, they are doing great. It's Arians fault.

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    Default Re: The O-line

    i agree they are above avg line,what the problem is is arian's play calling,the best running years of the steelers was when there is a blocking full back.If you dont remember,Franco not olnly had a great offensive line,but had rock or frenchy.The Bus had mutiple drivers,and i think you would have to agree that a combination of runners other than that 1 back set up would improve that 3rd down effiency
    Last edited by murph; Dec-08-2010 at 08:16 PM.

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    Default Re: The O-line

    our OL is in shambles right now...


    Line situation turning into big dilemma for Steelers

    December 13, 2010 - By John Mehno johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com


    PITTSBURGH - Sunday was a productive day for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    They knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals 23-7 at Heinz Field and moved a step closer to nailing down the playoff spot that eluded them last season.

    They did what they had to do against the underachieving Bengals and now have three games left, two of them at home.

    The situation looks good.

    But if you're looking for something to worry about - and that's what we provide here, you're welcome - you're completely justified in having major anxiety about the offensive line.

    The line was a concern heading into training camp, and it's a bigger worry now that the postseason is looming.

    The Steelers have enough skill to succeed on offense. The question is whether those players will have the time and space they need, and that's where the line becomes an issue.

    Injuries have taken a huge toll on a group that wasn't that solid from the beginning. Willie Colon was lost in the offseason. Max Starks went down several weeks ago, and won't be back until next season.

    Chris Kemoeatu and Flozell Adams are playing hurt.

    It's not like the Steelers want to play Jonathan Scott and Ramon Foster. They have no choice.

    They're another pulled hamstring away from opening the Rolodex to find guys who are unemployed in mid-December.

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a broken nose and a broken right foot. He's scrambling for his life on too many plays.

    Roethlisberger is good at improvisation. He made an incredible play last week to get rid of the ball when Baltimore's Terrell Suggs was pawing at it and trying to knock him down at the same time.

    Roethlisberger had the presence of mind and physical ability to heave the ball out of bounds and save yardage.

    On Sunday, he ducked two tackles on a flea flicker gone awry, and he was able to shotput the ball ahead to Rashard Mendenhall to avoid a loss.

    Good work.

    But it would be better if Roethlisberger could drop back and have some time to find his receivers.

    He's operating on one leg and dealing with a broken nose that was protected with a bandage and a face shield, the latter only for the first half.

    You just wonder how battered Roethlisberger might be at this point if he hadn't sat out the first four games because of his NFL-mandated suspension.

    If the Steelers are going anywhere, they need Roethlisberger.

    Back-up Byron Leftwich hasn't played since the last pre-season game. Third-stringer Charlie Batch wasn't even supposed to make the team this year.

    Protecting Roethlisberger is paramount if the Steelers expect to do anything in the postseason.

    They should be able to get by Carolina and Cleveland to finish with a minimum of 12 victories.

    The New York Jets, this week's opponent, don't appear to be as strong as they looked earlier in the season. The Steelers could wind up 13-3.

    If they don't do a better job of taking care of their quarterback, they could wind up very disappointed.

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    Default Re: The O-line

    Some good observations about the initial contact and then losing their man. I kept saying Mendy was going to break one but the holes just closed too quickly because our O line can't sustain a block.

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