Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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 Alejandro Villanueva
Stock Value: Down
The 2018 season was the best in Alejandro Villanueva’s career. The 2019 season was not. While it wasn’t a bad year by any means, however, it was a step down from the level of play that he had some to establish over the course of the past couple of years.
That is surely not entirely his fault, given the many variables on offense that were in play. The loss of Ben Roethlisberger, resulting in the team working with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges for the first time, did take a toll on the offensive line.
In particular was the fact that neither of the young quarterbacks possess the sort of pocket presence of Roethlisberger, nor the sense of urgency to get out of the pocket or to get the ball out. Both Rudolph and Hodges had a tendency to hold on to the ball too long, and as a result were responsible for creating a lot of the pressure that they themselves faced. At times, they even rolled or slid directly into pressure, even sacks.
So that is the background against which we have to discuss the Steelers’ offensive line play last season as a whole, even if the line would not use that as an excuse. In fact, on many occasions, several different offensive linemen have commented upon the fact that it makes no difference who is under center, because their job remains the same.
One interesting note is that Villanueva actually gave up fewer sacks last season than he did the year before, or in any year prior. However, he allowed a number of hits more than he did the year before, and significantly more hurries.
Also of note is the fact that he had a career-high 10 penalties called against him, with seven of them being accepted, typically holding penalties. As far as his run-blocking goes, this was never his great strength, but the 2019 season may have been his worst in that department since 2015. That said, the Steelers could do a lot worse than Villanueva as their left tackle, and most teams in the league, in fact, are.