Many people were understandably anxious to get a good look at Pittsburgh Steelers first-year offensive lineman B.J. Finney making his first career start on Sunday night against the Chiefs, and, fortunately, he actually did quite well, with very few negative plays, and handful of above the line efforts as well.
His solid play began on the first offensive snap of the game, when he did well to clear the pocket—with a chip assist from Maurkice Pouncey—in order to set up the deep ball for Sammie Coates, which he reeled in for a tone-setting big play to start the night.
Later on in the drive, he drew a one-on-one assignment against impressive Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe, and won. Although the run was eventually called back on a hold, Finney’s ability to get Poe turned inside helped pry open the B gap for a nine-yard run. Unfortunate the hold ended up stalling a promising opening drive, but there was more to come.
Fast forward to the top of the second half, and we got a glimpse at Finney at his best in space that I have yet to see him, working down the field off the snap, across the formation and down the line to take out the linebacker on what ended up being a 17-yard gain on a screen pass.
Athleticism has been the main criticism of Finney’s game since coming out of college, and I think we did see a lot of that over the course of his first two preseasons and his appearance against the Eagles, but overall, outside of one play, he looked much more comfortable and decisive in space against the Chiefs.
On another play in which Ben Roethlisberger looked to go down the field, Finney was looking to help out his center before he saw the defensive back blitzing. The first-year lineman reacted quickly and drove him well out of the play.
A couple of plays later, Finney mauled veteran run-stuffing linebacker Derrick Johnson on a zone run to the left. I’m not entirely sure what happened to Johnson here, it looks like he may have struggled to get his feet set and ended up buckling, but the guard’s natural strength is on display here all the same.
On what was probably easily his worst snap of the night, however, Finney lost the leverage game early on a short-yardage snap on third down midway through the third quarter. He quickly got stood up at the line, lost inside contain, and got walked back as the Chiefs defense stifled the run.
Overall, however, it was an extremely promising performance for Finney and bodes well for his future, although we are probably getting ahead of ourselves looking too far ahead. After all, he played most of the game in ideal circumstances with a big lead. It certainly makes me want to see more from him, however.