The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How will B.J. Finney perform over the course of the next three games at center?
Fourth-year offensive lineman B.J. Finney has made 10 starts in his professional career. Following this stretch that is coming up, he will have started at least two games every year. Two came last year at right guard filling in for David DeCastro. He has started six games over the course of the past four years at left guard in Ramon Foster’s spot.
The other two have come at center, one each in the season finale of the 2016 and 2017 finales against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers play the Browns again during the next three-game stretch, so he will be facing them at center once again.
Finney is being thrust into the starting lineup, of course, because of the suspension handed down to Maurkice Pouncey. The 10th-year veteran was given a three-game suspension for punching and kicking Browns defensive end Myles Garrett after he assaulted quarterback Mason Rudolph.
While he has put in some quality starts over the course of his career, arguably his worst games have come in the two games in which he started at center, particularly the one during his first season on the roster. He was injured in the middle of the season finale of his second season, so that was a limited sample size.
So is Finney naturally a better guard at the NFL level than center, even though that is his college background? Were the previous games a fluke? Basically, how will he perform over the course of the next three games?