I don’t know if Maurkice Pouncey will ever fully regain his form to 100 percent of the level that once made him arguably the best center in the game, but for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he is still plenty good, and offers little to complain about, especially in pass protection.
One of the things that the Steelers loved about Pouncey coming out of college was his athleticism and the possibilities that they foresaw in using him out in space, which is difficult for the center position to carry out. We saw some of this more than we had earlier this season on Sunday.
Not always necessarily a pull, Pouncey also showed his agility on inside blocks, as on a screen pass in the first quarter against the Ravens. With the Steelers pulling David DeCastro as window dressing, Pouncey was tasked with sliding down two gaps to pick up the defender Chris Hubbard at right tackle was chipping so that he could work downfield. The whole play went off pretty smoothly, I must say.
But it wasn’t all flayless, as another few plays later saw him struggle to stay in front of a defender on a stretch run to the right. Nose tackle Michael Pierce showed surprising mobility here getting in front of the center’s block to make the tackle after two yards. Credit where it’s due.
He did follow that up with a nice pull on the very next play, working off right tackle to throw a cut block at safety Tony Jefferson that forced him to counter the effort and take himself out of the play as Le’Veon Bell caught an angle for a 16-yard gain.
Both he and DeCastro worked to the right on a run early in the second half. This time, while he was able to drive Jefferson down the field initially, he was unable to make steady contact, but he still helped to provide the space for a 17-yard run up the right side.
Jefferson did finally get the better of Pouncey later in the game, as you would expect one of the most physical, run-stuffing safeties to do at some point. On this time with Pouncey pulling to the right, Jefferson was able to duck under to the outside and cut Bell down for a loss of three.
It’s been fun to watch the Steelers’ linemen get out on the move so often early in the season. They haven’t done as much with the tackles yet, but it should be coming.