The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted offensive tackle Mike Adams in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, envisioning him as the future of the left tackle spot for years to come. They found out early in his second year that that dream might have been a bit premature.
In the middle of his third season, Adams is still making spot starts, and while head coach Mike Tomlin made sure to praise him for his fill-in performance against the Indianapolis Colts in place of the concussed Marcus Gilbert, that praise wasn’t necessarily entirely deserved.
The way the day went for the Steelers offense, however, even when it went bad, it still often ended up pretty good. Take this third and one play at the beginning of the Steelers’ opening drive. Adams was beaten for the tackle, but the back still gained six yards.
The Colts were in their base defense with outside linebacker Bjoern Werner lined up outside of Adams on the offensive right edge. Werner worked him back a step or two, and then Adams made the mistake of putting his hands down. He was beat at that point. Werner cut inside and tackled Le’Veon Bell, but the big back’s momentum led him upfield another five yards.
On the other hand, he came back on the next play in joining the rest of the offensive line with some really solid stunt pickups. The Colts crossed both pairs of rushers in the hopes of creating confusion, but the linemen passed them off nearly seamlessly and allowed an easy delivery down the field.
Adams finished off that opening drive by bearing down on and neutralizing Werner as Ben Roethlisberger hit Markus Wheaton for the 18-yard touchdown. This time, the right tackle mirrored well, not opening his hips too soon, and reacting well to a late inside push.
On the other hand, he started off the next drive by inexplicably missing his initial block straight up on Cory Redding. He proceeded to simply hold the lineman as tight end help allowed the running back to cut back around the right side for three yards.
Toward the middle of that drive, it was actually the tackle helping out the tight end in pass protection, rather than vice versa. Adams started out doubling with the right guard, but when he saw Heath Miller beginning to lose his battle with the outside linebacker, he peeled back and helped punch the edge rusher back, which helped buy time to convert on a second and 17.
As a bonus, Adams really showed well again late in the first half in picking up the stunt, this time with Redding looping around. The fact that he’s at least showing progress from a mental standpoint is something, I suppose, even if some technical flaws still exist.