The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: David DeCastro
Position: Offensive Guard
Experience: 4 Years
Much as was the case for Marcus Gilbert, this proved to be the year in which fourth-year offensive guard David DeCastro finally solidified himself and his position with the team. Not only did he establish for himself a string of consistency of play that had eluded him previously, he also received accolades for the job that he did this season, the first time that a lineman outside of Maurkice Pouncey had done so since Alan Faneca.
In his fourth season, DeCastro earned his first Pro Bowl recognition of his career, which is something that seemed to be predestined for him before he was even drafted. You may have just watched him in pass protection in Hawaii yesterday if you were the one of the individuals who still choose to watch whatever it is that the Pro Bowl game has become.
Not only was he recognized as a Pro Bowler, however, he also received first-team All-Pro accolades, which is about as prestigious a recognition that an individual lineman could hope to achieve during his playing career. Faneca also happened to have earned his first nods in both categories during his fourth season.
DeCastro’s biggest strides on the field came in his pass protection, which had been the weaker half of his game in comparison to his work as a run blocker. His customary pull block on some of the Steelers’ staple running plays remained a highlight for the team this season, but some of his biggest improvements were harder to notice.
Linemen tend to get noticed more when they make mistakes or get overpowered, and DeCastro did not see that happen to him too often this year in pass protection. This was certainly the best season of his career in terms of remaining stout in the face of stunting linemen and in his ability to absorb a bull rush.
I also think that credit needs to be given to him for the fact that he worked with Cody Wallace all season next to him at center, providing him quality support in helping the offensive line stay ‘above the line’ in spite of missing their anchor in Pouncey. The guard really helped carry Wallace through the season when he was struggling, and DeCastro, taking greater ownership of his position in the offensive line room, was a part of that process.