His game didn’t last too long—exiting about midway through the second quarter due to a lower body injury of some description, which as been alternately varied and vague—but I wanted to take a look at B.J. Finney’s start at center. While he has made five strong starts at left guard over the past two years, he struggled starting at center last year, so I was looking forward to seeing him work there against the Browns again.
One of the chief ways in which the center position differs from guard—outside obviously of snapping the ball, and typically being more responsible for line calls—is that it’s often more of a complementary task, needing to know who and when to give help to.
On the opening drive, he helped to dig nose tackle Danny Shelton out of his spot along with Matt Feiler, the latter of whom continued to drive the big load down the field. Finney then advanced to the second level to occupy the linebacker to help secure a 13-yard run.
Shelton was really a handful for him a year ago, so I wanted to get a good look working against him one-one-one, and he showed a much better anchor this time around. Though this pass sailed a bit on Landry Jones for an incompletion, I like the work of Finney in pass protection, able to use a one-arm punch to balance against the nose tackle.
Early in the second quarter, though, Browns rookie tackle Caleb Brantley was able to get a good early push in the pocket on a play that resulted in Finney backing up into Jones, stepping on his foot and causing him to fall. Brantley would tag him down for the sack.
On the next drive, again working on Shelton, the center had an early grip on the nose tackle, but when Fitzgerald Toussaint committed to hitting the hole to the right, Finney lost it as Shelton swam over him and made a diving attempt at a tackle, though he was not officially credited with one.
It was on the next play that he would be injured, which may prove to be the last snap that he plays this season. The Steelers pulled both him and Feiler around right end, leading Toussaint. The blocking scheme didn’t really hit the right blocks, and Finney ended up going tumbling, not getting up again for several minutes.
I would really liked to have seen Finney play the full game to get a better evaluation of how he looks at center. In the somewhat brief look, he did seem more comfortable, and the fact that he was going against the same opponent is a good litmus test for comparison.