2020 South Side Questions: Can Steelers Really Improve Their Physicality?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

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: Can the Steelers actually improve their physicality during the regular season to a meaningful degree?

The topic of conversation over the course of the past two days, at least when it doesn’t involve dancing, has been about physicality for the Steelers, or rather the lack thereof. It’s something that head coach Mike Tomlin pointed out during his Tuesday press conference, and a number of others, particularly offensive players, followed suit.

The question is, though, can they really make much of a difference during the season to become a more physical team? If they are capable of being more physical, then why isn’t it already happening? They were already in pads last week, and yet everyone is complaining about the lack of physicality in the aftermath.

The main area of concern, I think, is the offensive line. This is not necessarily a group that caters toward physicality, especially with the minimal amount of running that they do. The tackle position in particular is more finesse than power and leans toward pass protection. At least this season, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro don’t appear to be the same players, and Matt Feiler has not played as well inside as he did at tackle the past two years.

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