The Pittsburgh Steelers have become used to having one of the very best offensive lines year in and year out over the span of the past decade. They have had three members of their starting offensive line make the Pro Bowl multiple times over the span, all three of whom remain in the starting lineup.
While the natural talent of these players goes a long way, the instruction that they have received during that time has also been widely credited in their success. With the exception of Maurkice Pouncey, everyone has had their best years during this span (Pouncey was already a first-team All-Pro).
That timescale coincides with the hiring of Mike Munchak, who was the Steelers’ offensive line coach between 2014 and 2018. He elected to take a parallel position with the Denver Broncos this offseason after his contract expired, by his choice, with the intention of moving closer to his daughter and granddaughter.
He certainly didn’t do it swayed by the lure of their offensive linemen out there.
And so this year began as something of a transition, from Munchak to his protégé, Shaun Sarrett, who has in fact been with the team longer than Munchak had, but was always in an assistant capacity. Munchak told reporters after taking the Broncos job that one of the reasons he was comfortable doing so was because he know he was leaving his linemen in good hands with Sarrett.
Even with that said, the line began the 2019 rough around the edges, with the tackles in particular having a rough game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week Three. More often than not, they have had a hard time getting the ground game going as well. Pouncey has oddly had his issues snapping the ball at times, though he’s had to play with three different quarterbacks under center.
The group has been trending in a positive direction, though, and coming off a good game against the Miami Dolphins, Pro Football Focus has the position group ranked 10th among all of the offensive lines around the league.
“Matt Feiler has been a pleasant surprise for Pittsburgh to start this season. He finished Week 8 ranked inside the top-10 among all at his position in overall grade (82.5) and earned strong marks as a run-blocker (78.5) and pass-blocker (79.0)”, writes Austin Gayle. “Veteran guard David DeCastro has also starred in pass protection, earning an 87.6 pass-blocking grade through the first eight weeks”.
Continuing to win in the trenches will be a vital part of the success of this offense under Mason Rudolph. While he has shown poise under pressure, speeding up his processing window will be a detriment to him for sure.