With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming off their bye week and little to talk about in the interim outside of returning players, now would be as good a time as any to take a look back on what’s transpired this season and give out some mid-year player evaluations.
The team as a whole has suffered its ups and downs throughout the season, particularly the bi-polar offense that prefers the comforts of home. Even with all the road struggles, however, the Steelers are ranked seventh in the league in scoring, averaging 26.2 points per game.
On the flip side, the defense has struggled not only with youth and inexperience but also with injuries, en route to posting the 19th-best defense in points allowed, giving up 23.9 points per game, with hopes to start changing that down the home stretch.
Player: Ramon Foster, LG
Last season, it was safe to say that Ramon Foster was the most consistent lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and perhaps even the best lineman during the season. Having finally settled into an uncontested starting role at left guard, he really started to bloom as a staple of the offensive line, with consistency as his hallmark, particularly in pass protection.
Consistency hasn’t been so easy for the veteran lineman to come by in year two as the starting left guard for the Steelers—missing a few games early on due to injury didn’t help matters—but he has still been solid overall.
Interestingly, he had by for his worst two games of the season against the Baltimore Ravens, whose stout interior with the likes of Haloti Ngata and Brandon Williams gave Foster nightmares. While his performance as a run blocker was wanting in those games, he also uncharacteristically struggled in pass protection against Pittsburgh’s division rival.
Following the second Ravens game, however, he put up a clean sheet in pass protection against the New York Jets, despite the visiting team playing from behind from the beginning of the game. He has become quite adept at feeling out from which side the pressure is likely to come, and thus where to provide help.
While Foster has never exactly excelled as a run blocker—both of the linemen for the Steelers on the left side skew heavily toward pass protection as their strong suit—it’s rare that he fails to turn in at least a serviceable job, particularly when he’s left in a booth.
The Steelers have tried on occasion to get Foster on the move, such as on trap blocks, which have been more effective in pass protection than in the running game. He is clearly not the most agile along the offensive line, but the team seems to have cut back on the amount of times in which they ask him to get out in space.
Foster’s veteran leadership, along with Maurkice Pouncey’s, however, should not be overlooked when considering his value to this team. He is the oldest and most veteran lineman in the room, and he’s helped the maturation process of this otherwise young offensive line, leading it into an above average group.