Like Maurkice Pouncey, Shaun Suisham, and Cortez Allen, right tackle Marcus Gilbert was signed to a new long-term deal tying him to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the next several seasons.
Gilbert’s deal came after two strong efforts in the first two preseason games. He was perhaps the team’s best lineman during the exhibition efforts.
Since the calendar has flipped over to September, however, and the games have begun to count at the end of the season, Gilbert has too often found himself at the losing end of his battles against opposing pass rushers.
During the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, Gilbert surrendered two sacks to Paul Kruger and Armonty Bryant, and also allowed Kruger to get to Ben Roethlisberger for what was basically a third sack when the quarterback bobbled the snap.
It was a frustrating performance that I took a look at here.
On Thursday, against the Baltimore Ravens, Gilbert drew the short end of the stick twice against outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, bringing his sacks surrendered total to four through just the first two games.
Dumervil got Gilbert on his back on one of those two occasions, with the tackle almost rolling over on the ground.
After making stride throughout the offseason under new offensive line coach Mike Munchak, it seemed that Gilbert was forced to resort to some of his old tendencies in trying to deal with Dumervil.
Yesterday at his weekly press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin gave the fourth-year offensive lineman a vote of confidence.
When talking about his struggles against the Ravens, Tomlin said that “a lot of it was Dumervil related”, describing him as “a pretty good player and has been for a long period of time”.
The head coach also waved off any question about Gilbert’s job security. In other words, we shouldn’t be anticipating Mike Adams taking the field any time soon, barring an injury.
To that end, Tomlin said that he expects Gilbert to “come back fighting like Rocky”, saying that he’s “not concerned about…his ability to rebound…and his mentality in regards to that”.
He really doesn’t have any alternative, of course. Tomlin certainly can’t afford to bench Gilbert and play either Adams or a rookie fifth-round draft pick.
But that’s not to say that his confidence was unfounded. There’s no question that Gilbert did make strides in his game. it was evident in the preseason, and several different parties noted the improvement.
The Steelers were forced to play two games back to back to begin the season, and Kruger and Dumervil proved to be tough tasks for Dumervil. With the short rest, many Steelers players seemed to suffer from fatigue. With an extended break between games, Gilbert needs to get both his mind and body in order to ‘come back fighting’.