The 2017 season is over and in the books, the Pittsburgh Steelers coming up far short of their goal. While they had a regular season record of 13-3, they went 0-1 in the postseason, and that will be the legacy of this previous campaign.
The task at hand is working toward improving that postseason record and assuring that it has a zero in the loss column instead of the win column. We can take a position-by-position look at how they can work toward that goal based on their personnel.
Position: Interior Offensive Line
Total Positional Figure: 6
Ramon Foster: The 2017 season was not Ramon Foster’s healthiest, nor his best. He struggled more than he has in recent seasons, but remains solid, if somewhat less consistent. Having started over 100 games and heading into his 10th season, however, he has certainly had a worthy career.
Maurkice Pouncey: Maurkice Pouncey similarly lacked some of his prior consistency, and I thought he did better last season than in 2017, but he remains a quality player. The question is whether this is his new standard or if he will return to an All-Pro level like he did in 2014.
David DeCastro: It goes without saying that David DeCastro is the new face of the interior offensive line, if not the group as a whole. He is clearly the best and most consistent player. He literally did not miss a snap until they gave him the season finale off. He excelled in all areas this year and really only had issues against the Jaguars.
B.J. Finney: Every time he has started at left guard, he has played well, looking like he could project as a future starter there. That would certainly be convenient, but until such time that that discussion happens, B.J. Finney will remain a valuable backup at all three interior positions.
Chris Hubbard: Chris Hubbard has spent most of his recent years at tackle, but saw a lot of time in prior years inside. His snaps from center were ugly when he was called off the bench during the season finale, but he likely will leave in free agency.
Matt Feiler: Having served three years on the practice squad, Matt Feiler finally rose to the 53-man roster. And he finally got his opportunity in the season finale, starting at right guard and playing a very good game, if a bit rough around the edges, though that should not be surprising given that he hardly played five snaps during the year up to that point.
Offseason Strategy: Prepare Succession Plan
While it has to be considered that Jerald Hawkins could perhaps factor inside if necessary, the reality is that Hubbard will probably not be back in 2018, and Foster is nearing the end of the road. Even if you project Finney to slide into his spot in the next two years, right now you’re just left with Feiler, with one game of playing experience, to lean upon. Depth here is an underrated broad-view need, so don’t be surprised if we see a mid-round pick here, or even a modest free agent. Don’t forget, they looked at some veteran interior linemen just two years ago.