Like everything else about 2020, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line is in a weird spot. They’ve been the pillar and consistency and continuity for years now. While that unit should still be a strength, especially once David DeCastro gets healthy, there’s more new faces entering the lineup Week One than the team’s experienced for several seasons.
Assuming DeCastro misses Monday night and Stefen Wisniewski gets the nod in his place, here is Pittsburgh’s projected starting five.
LT: Alejandro Villanueva
LG: Matt Feiler
C: Maurkice Pouncey
RG: Stefen Wisniewski
RT: Zach Banner
It’s much more movement for an opener than what the team is used to. Here are the team’s Week One o-line combinations from the past nine years, 2012-2020.
Pittsburgh has three changes to their Week 1 offensive line this season. Feiler moving to left guard, Wisniewski starting for DeCastro at right guard, and Banner the new right tackle. You have to go back to 2013 to find the last time there’s been three shifts to the o-line compared to the previous Week One. That’s an eternity for a collective starting five.
Of course, there are a couple caveats worth noting. Feiler is at a different position but isn’t new to the starting lineup. DeCastro will hopefully return sooner than later – this isn’t like 2015 when Cody Wallace stepped after Maurkice Pouncey’s season-ending injury – and even Zach Banner isn’t an unfamiliar face to the Steelers. He’s heading into his third year with the team. So this offensive line shouldn’t be a weak spot over the course of the season. Even Shaun Sarrett being in his second year helps.
But you feel the cracks in the line beginning to form. That’s just Father Time doing its thing. This group is older and several are slated to hit free agency in the offseason: Villanuvea, Feiler, and Banner. Pouncey is well into his 30s. DeCastro will be 31 in January.
This will still be a solid unit in 2020. Much better once DeCastro is healthy (obviously). But it has a different feel than past years. In the rear-view mirror, this season may be seen as a transitional one from the old guard (Villanueva, Foster, Pouncey, DeCastro) to the new guard. Whoever that ends up being.