The Pittsburgh Steelers have the best offensive line in football right now. That’s pretty easy to say considering what the offense has accomplished over the course of this season, and particularly over the course of the past five games, but it’s true. And that goes for the group from the top to the bottom as well, with B.J. Finney and Matt Feiler having made six starts this season between them.
Their group has steadily climbed in Pro Football Focus’ offensive line rankings, to the point where they have climbed to the top spot in their latest published list. it’s worth noting that this ranking does not even include Thursday’s 52-21 victory, during which Ben Roethlisberger posted a perfect passer rating and was hardly touched.
“The Steelers have one of the best track records for offensive line development of any team in the NFL, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that former undrafted free agent Matt Feiler has stepped in at right tackle for Marcus Gilbert and graded competently”, Michael Renner wrote.
Feiler has started the past three games in place of Marcus Gilbert, and four of the past seven overall. The line has hardly missed a beat with the second-year lineman in the lineup, as they have won each of those four games. “In three games, Feiler has allowed only five pressures and no sacks”, the site added, though that doesn’t include Thursday’s game, as noted.
The last time the site published a list of their offensive line rankings, I believe, was after the Week Six games, during which they ranked the Steelers’ line seventh. In an earlier ranking, they were only 13th. And to be fair, they did have injuries early on and have improved as the season has progressed.
But right now they are playing as well as they ever have, comparable to the end of the 2016 season, during which they helped lead the team on a nine-game winning streak through the first two rounds of postseason play, spurred on primarily by dominant run-blocking.
Roethlisberger has been perhaps the single most well-protected quarterback in the entire league over the course of the past few seasons, and 2018 is no exception. The Steelers have allowed pressure on the fewest percentage of passing plays this season. And Roethlisberger hasn’t been shy about holding onto the ball at times either.
Every time the Steelers gave a lineman a contract extension, there were questions raised by some about how much you can invest in one position group. There is one philosophy along those lines among NFL teams. Another is that you invest in the talent you have, wherever it may be.
The Steelers’ talent rests in their offensive line, which is why they’ve been rewarded. We have seen the results of that decision this year more than any other.