It’s not often for offensive linemen to get love. Add on top of that a lack of name recognition, longevity, or accolades, and you really start to get anonymous unless you do something crazy. One of the best things about the advent of advanced metrics in football has been a greater appreciation for quality of play along the offensive line.
Pro Football Focus has a lot of detractors, to be sure, but they have played a crucial and integral role in highlighting the importance of offensive line play and creating far more nuance in how we talk about and analyze the position. Instead of talking about how many rushing yards and points an offense produces, we can look at what a lineman is actually doing.
And the site recently took a moment to offer some big props to a name most NFL fans outside of the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base probably don’t know: Matt Feiler. Though in his third season, and having started 10 games last year, Feiler moved into a permanent starting role for the first time in 2019, and while he’s had a couple of hiccups, he has been a really steady performer, as Anthony Treasch writes:
Before this season, most NFL fans probably had never heard of Matt Feiler. After spending more than three years on the Texans’ and Steelers’ practice squads, Feiler got his opportunity in 2018 to start 10 games, and he was successful in those starts. In 2019, he’s taken a big step forward and is now the fifth-highest-graded right tackle in football. In terms of PFF pass-blocking grade, Feiler is right next to premier right tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Mitchell Schwartz, and he should be getting the same amount of attention.
That’s quite high praise to put Feiler in the discussion as being among the best pass-protecting tackles in all of football, make no mistake about it. The Steelers as a unit, the bombardment from the last game notwithstanding, have been among the best in pass protection for really the past five years, but they haven’t missed a beat moving on from Marcus Gilbert at right tackle thanks to him.
A former undrafted free agent who spent his rookie season on the Houston Texans’ practice squad, then two more on the Steelers’ before finally making the 53-man roster in 2017, Feiler was a utility player who spent most of his time at guard before called upon last year to replace the injured Gilbert.
He has since turned that opportunity to remain in one fixed role to really hone his craft and blossom into a permanent starter. Yet the Steelers still value his versatility, as evidence by their moving him to left guard for one game when Ramon Foster was injured. You don’t do that with someone you don’t believe is multi-faceted, let alone someone whose comfort and stability you question. He’s a rock—or an Anchor, if you will—as far as the coaches are concerned, with all the trust in the world.