Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: T Matt Feiler
Stock Value: Down
While the offensive line has not been at its best at the outset of the 2019 season, the cries for Mike Munchak are no doubt misplaced. Nobody would ever deny that Munchak is an excellent offensive line coach, and was crucial to turning this unit into what it has become over the past five-plus years, but this group in particular is a veteran-laden, self-motivated room, with an instructor who’s been there for most of this past decade, already working directly with them.
I just wanted to get that out of the way before moving on, because based on our timelines, it’s become a pretty popular talking point. The line needs to get better, certainly, but they have started off slow before in recent years, most notably in 2016, before warming up to become the best line in the league by the end of that year.
And Matt Feiler is the new permanent starter in that mix. He actually played perfectly fine over the course of the first two weeks, but his performance against the San Francisco 49ers may have been the worst of his relatively young starting career.
While that was highlighted by the sack that he allowed by Dee Ford, Feiler surrendered multiple hurries in the passing game throughout the day, and given that it came in the first start of Mason Rudolph’s career, the timing couldn’t have been a lot worse.
While his run-blocking overall was pretty solid, the bread and butter of offensive line play today is the ability to protect the quarterback, and Sunday’s numbers bore that out. The linemen were asked to pass protect on 35 plays, versus 18 run-blocking snaps.
Still, I don’t find myself too concerned about the line or about Feiler. When you’re adjusting to a new quarterback, on the road, against a good team with good edge defenders in the early portions of the seasons, things might go poorly.
The Cincinnati Bengals are a familiar opponent. If he struggles again against them, perhaps I’ll start being a bit more concerned, but not before.