The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
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: Who is the best tackle in the AFC North?
Note: for simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to use images of Steelers for the cover photos of these articles. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m arguing they’re the best.
Two years ago, this would have been an easy question: Joe Thomas. He’s going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when his time comes. Meanwhile, the Browns currently do not even have a left tackle, thought their newest addition, Jack Conklin, should be in this discussion.
I don’t think he quite makes it, however. I would have to give the distinction to Ronnie Stanley of the Baltimore Ravens, who over his still young career has developed into both a strong run blocker and pass protector, and is certainly one of the better young tackles in the league. Orlando Brown on the opposite side of him is also emerging, but obviously not his equal.
The Steelers’ two tackles, Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler, are both fine, don’t get me wrong, but they are clearly not the best in the division. And at least they’re not the Bengals, though on that note, it should be interesting to finally see Jonah Williams get on the field. Bobby ‘T.J. Watt Sucks’ Hart? Spare me.
If I were to rank the top five tackles, it would go Stanley, Conklin, Brown and Villanueva tied, and then Feiler. I do expect Villanueva to have a better season in 2020 than last year.