Each member of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line is talented on their own but as a unit, the group holds the stakes to being one of the more talented offensive lines in football. According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers’ offensive line is not just one of the more talented offensive lines in the NFL but they are in fact, the undisputed best pass blocking offensive line in the NFL.
According to PFF, the Steelers’ offensive line led the NFL in pass blocking efficiency in 2018 with a 89.7 grade. The Steelers just narrowly beat the Chicago Bears (89.1) and the Baltimore Ravens (88.7). Here is what PFF had to say about the play of the Steelers’ offensive line:
“It’s no secret that the Steelers’ offensive line has been one of the league’s most dominant units over the last couple of years, so it comes as no surprise to see them top this list. Through 17 weeks, the unit allowed only 136 pressures on the year (13 sacks, 20 hits, and 103 hurries) despite playing the league’s second-most pass-blocking snaps.”
The Steelers’ offensive line is no stranger to accolades from PFF as earlier this year, they were voted as the website’s offensive line of the year. Every member of the offensive line scored at least a 68.9 grade or higher with Alejandro Villanueva leading the charge with a 78.1 grade.
As a collective whole, the offensive line was able able to keep quarterback Ben Roethlisberger safe even despite the absence of right tackle Marcus Gilbert for majority of the season. To put PFF’s pass blocking efficiency grade into a better perspective, consider that Roethlisberger dropped back a career high 675 times in 2018 and was only sacked 24 times, which works out to a 3.4 sack percentage. The Steelers only trailed the Indianapolis Colts last season in sack percentage. For reference, the Colts were 10th in pass blocking efficiency according to PFF.
The Steelers’ league leading grade in pass blocking efficiency likely has a lot to do with their play at home last season. In eight home games, the unit allowed just eight sacks. Roethlisberger was sacked multiple times at home just once last season, when the New England Patriots got to him twice, though one of those sacks came due to an error from running back Jaylen Samuels, not the offensive line.
Pittsburgh has to be happy where the offensive line is headed as they march into the 2019 season. The group that led the NFL in pass blocking efficiency will see all five starting members return as the team re-signed guard Ramon Foster to a two-year, $8.25 million deal earlier this offseason. Center Maurkice Pouncey will be in Pittsburgh for at least three more seasons after also signing a new deal this offseason and Matt Feiler is looking at first dibs at the right tackle position after showing promise last season.