Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: G Matt Feiler
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: Matt Feiler is now three games into the latest phase of his career in which he is the starting left guard. The results have been decidedly mixed, as while he has made some excellent plays, particularly in space, he has also lost a notable share of one-on-one matchups.
Matt Feiler’s versatility to play either inside or outside was a great comfort to the Steelers this offseason when figuring out how they would rearrange their offensive line. With both Ramon Foster retiring and B.J. Finney leaving in free agency, depth had suddenly become a problem, while, if anything, they seemed to have too many tackles.
The solution? Kick one tackle inside. That obviously wasn’t going to be Zach Banner, and you didn’t necessarily want to make that move with Chukwuma Okorafor, either, though he may be up to it. Stefen Wisniewski was signed, but he functions better as your top backup.
So Feiler stepping up and sliding into that left guard role was important for the Steelers. And don’t get me wrong, he has generally done reasonably well. His run blocking on the move in the team’s last game in particular was a highlight.
That said, it does feel like he is still adjusting a bit to playing in the booth again. He has now started a total of five games in his entire career at guard, three coming this season, versus 25 at right tackle, so it’s reasonable to assume that he will get more comfortable as the season goes on.
It’s not just about adjusting to the different footwork, sightlines, and mechanics of playing inside versus on the outside. It’s also about the different looks that defenses show you, the stunts that they run and how you have to respond to them, and especially the body types that you see.
Feiler can do it. He’s up to the task. That doesn’t mean there haven’t but a few bumps in the road along the way. The Steelers have a great deal of trust in him for a reason, to the point where they neve even questioned whether or not it was the best move to be made.