The Pittsburgh Steelers never bothered—or never really got the chance to—establish the run in the season opener against the New England Patriots. They never even bothered to run a two-tight end set. They did so pretty frequently, however, against the Seattle Seahawks, even three-tight end sets, with a tackle-eligible in play.
This year, the tackle-eligible is third-year Zach Banner, who beat out Chukwuma Okorafor for the swing tackle position. Okorafor was competing for the starting right tackle job with Matt Feiler, but now he wound up all the way on the bench after dressing in all 16 games as a rookie. Funny how things work out sometimes.
Banner did play better; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s been fantastic. And while he saw a number of snaps as a tackle-eligible on Sunday, it’s no surprise it was a mixed bag. It was the first time he’s done it in a meaningful game, outside of three snaps with the Cleveland Browns as a rookie. So let’s take a closer look.
That’s right, the first snap of action he’s ever seen with the Steelers, he gets called for a holding penalty. And it’s a fair call. The end clearly beats him off the snap and he has no recourse but to get his hands on his back.
He was on the field for some notable plays, however, even if his role was not enormous on them. That included Benny Snell’s 23-yard run on third and one. Here he’s the inside of a three-tight end look. He goes his job to hold the lineman, which simply allows the run to flow as intended.
a bit player, we find him on the field for the Steelers’ lone rushing touchdown of the season to date. The team had a lot of rushing scores from inside the two-yard line last year, and many of them featured the tackle-eligible. He gets good push on the downblock here, much cleaner than the first play with a better jump off the snap.
the Steelers wanted to show that they’ll run anything out of multiple-tight end sets, even with an extra lineman in the game, and here’s an example from the fourth quarter. Notice Xavier Grimble lined up at fullback here. Banner does a nice job in pass protection here, ultimately putting his man on the ground.
Finally, Banner can claim that he was on the last snap of the game for the offense. That was the three-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald following the second recovered fumble. Again from a three-tight end set, the Steelers run play-action with a quick-release throw to the tight end for an easy score.
Overall, the big man did a solid job in his debut as the tackle-eligible, which means we should expect to see more of it going forward.