For the second time this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers called upon the services of first-year offensive lineman B.J. Finney in order to fill in for Ramon Foster at the left guard position. In both of those games, Le’Veon Bell dominated on the ground. coincidence? Yes, but not because Finney did not do his part in contributing to the offense’s success.
This was his second successful start in as many attempts, and it would be easy to say that he has a future in a starting lineup somewhere, if a place can be found. But I don’t see Foster giving up his spot any time in the immediate future. As it currently stands, he looks to be an excellent backup option.
Perhaps the most interesting thing that we saw from Finney in this game, as Dave Bryan recapped recently, was that the Steelers got the first-year interior lineman out on the move several times throughout the game, often pulling on a running play, which helped the run game ambidextrous rather than relying upon left-handed sweeps.
An example of that can be seen toward the end of the third quarter, the Steelers working from a set with multiple tight ends. Finney pulled right on the play and did a great job of sticking to the cornerback and allowing Bell to work to the outside, easily picking up 10 yards in the process.
On the following play, however, the fill-in starter was flagged for his second penalty of the game, this time drawing a holding call in the run game. But he came back, responding on the next play with a block that sealed the defensive end outside of an A-Gap run that ended up going for 33 yards, quite a bit of it untouched.
Later on that drive, the Steelers put Finney on the move again with another pull to the right. The linebacker attempted to set the edge by shifting wide on the play, but the run cut up inside, with the tight end also working on the sweep right. Though the play only gained four yards, it was still an example of his ability to get on the move.
It wasn’t just on running plays that the offense tried to move Finney, however, as a late example on a passing play out of a set with three tight ends demonstrates. Running off play-action, the left guard pulled right to pick up the cornerback coming in on a run blitz, which helped lead to a 29-yard play.
As mentioned, he was docked for two penalties over the course of the game, and some of his pulls were less successful than others, but overall, Finney turned in a more than respectable performance that demonstrated that his first start was not a fluke. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for him, as he clearly has talent.