By Matthew Marczi
With a few days now gone by since the final 53-man roster was first tallied and the Pittsburgh Steelers seemingly done making roster moves, it certainly appears that journeyman offensive lineman Guy Whimper is here to stay, at least for now.
So what exactly does that mean for the 2013 season?
As it currently stands, it should mean virtually nothing, barring injury. Whimper is clearly the eighth offensive lineman in the hierarchy, and it is extremely rare that head coach Mike Tomlin elects to dress more than seven on game days.
While his career briefly overlapped with Jack Bicknell, Jr.—Whimper was in his fourth and final year with the New York Giants in 2009 during Bicknell’s first of three seasons there as an assistant offensive line coach—that is unlikely to earn him any brownie points, let alone playing time.
Indeed, Whimper, who was drafted by the Giants with what was originally one of the Steelers’ draft picks in 2006 (they moved up in the first round to draft Santonio Holmes and gave up their own first, third, and fourth round picks in the process), seems poised to spend the year inactive barring injuries.
The veteran’s struggles as a starting tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, particularly over the past two seasons, are well-documented, as he ranked well near the bottom of the list for pass blocking efficiency by starting offensive tackles in both years.
Fortunately, however, he is not being asked to be a starter in Pittsburgh, and is in fact likely not even being asked to dress. The game day reserves appear set to be second-year multi-purpose lineman Kelvin Beachum and the recently acquired Cody Wallace, whose three-year college starting experience at center was more attractive to the front office than what John Malecki, they believed, would be able to provide, with his shorter than ideal arms and NFL-only exposure to the center position.
Whimper has spent 67 games in his career on the active list, and in 22 of those games, he was the starter. He has given up 19 sacks, by Pro Football Focus’ reckoning, in those 22 games. But what of the other 45 games?
In Whimper’s first two seasons with the Giants, he was active for 24 games; however, as a Giants fan, I can guarantee that he saw very little, if any, playing time on offense during that stretch. He then spent the 2008 season on injured reserve. He was an active reserve for six games in 2009 and saw playing time in five of them. He played just 32 snaps in total, however, with some of them coming at tight end. His most extensive playing time that year was when he was asked to fill in at right tackle for 15 snaps. In total, he pass blocked on eight snaps on the year and gave up one hurry.
His playing time stepped up after he signed with the Jaguars. He started the team’s Week 12 game against his former team at left tackle—his first extensive action as a professional—and he had a terrible time of it. He gave up just one sack, but he also surrendered five hits and three additional hurries on 47 pass blocking attempts. A few weeks later, he filled in at right tackle for 18 snaps, surrendering a sack and a hurry in 13 pass blocking attempts.
That somehow translated into a starting gig at right tackle (with one at left) in 2011, during which he played in and started 15 games. All told, he had a hand in 14 sacks by the end of the year, which is the most allowed in a single season by a lineman in the Pro Football Focus era (2008 onward), though there were several who came close in quantity. In terms of pass blocking efficiency, there actually were a few who did a poorer job, such as Sam Baker, James Carpenter, and Chad Clifton. His PBE of 91.6 ranked 71st out of 76 offensive tackles who played 25% of the team’s snaps in 2011.
2012, statistically, actually turned out even worse, and Whimper finished ranked 70th out of 72 with a PBE of 89.5, ahead of only D’Anthony Batiste—whom the Steelers briefly flirted with this training camp—and Michael Harris—who just beat out Max Starks for a job with the San Diego Chargers. Starks, by the way, ranked 56th out of 72 on the list, and Mike Adams ranked 62nd.
For what it’s worth, Whimper finished with a PBE of 93.3 between both guard and tackle this preseason, surrendering two sacks and five hurries in 85 pass blocking snaps. It would come out a touch better, at 93.8, if Pro Football Focus counted half-sacks. In comparison, Starks yielded four sacks, one hit, and one hurry in 48 pass blocking snaps for a PBE of 88.5.
All told, as a backup, Whimper has played in 169 snaps since 2009. 71 of those snaps came in pass protection. In those 71 snaps, he has given up two sacks, three hits, and five hurries. Most of that occurred in Week 1 last season when he was forced to step in at right tackle after injury for 59 snaps. In 35 snaps of pass protection, he surrendered a sack, a hit, and four hurries.
Thus, of the 45 games in which Whimper was active but not a starter, he only actually saw playing time in about 15 of them, with at least two of those games being exclusively at tight end. And of those 15, he only saw 10 or more snaps in six of them, with four coming last year.
What will the next chapter be for Guy Whimper? He should hopefully have plenty of time to write it while sitting on the bench in street clothes this season.