Whether by coincidence or design, the Pittsburgh Steelers came out early this past week to let it be known that they don’t feel they’re being physical enough. It started with head coach Mike Tomlin during his Tuesday press conference, and then we heard it from several players as well. Not everybody, necessarily, has been listening, however, or seeing the same things.
“I think whenever any football narrative comes out, regardless of what it is, there probably is enough evidence for it to be viable, and for people to listen to it”, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva said earlier today. “I’m sure that there’s a certain level of truth to it. I don’t dwell on the commentary. You guys probably are a lot more informed and versatile on the giving and receiving of narratives”.
He said that he’s “not very familiar with anything that’s been said. I’m not even familiar with what Coach Tomlin tells you in the media”, adding that he has been on something of a media hiatus over the course of the past year—so if Tomlin is trying to send him messages through his press conferences, he’s not hearing them.
“I focus on the things that I can control, and that is assignment blocking, the types of blocks that I have to do”, Villanueva added. “If you ask me about those types of blocks, then I’ll be able to give you a little bit more insight of what I believe—maybe I haven’t been doing a good job this season. I can only speak for myself, for I have no idea what a guard’s block or a center’s block looks like, or a right tackle”.
Truth be told, the offensive line has not been the strength this year that it normally is, though the issues are primarily in the run game. Villanueva has likely been the best of the group overall, particularly in terms of consistency, not to mention availability.
“I have so much to improve on, and I’m not a perfect player. I have to minimize mistakes. And physicality’s always a component of an offensive lineman and playing football in general, he continued.
“I cannot challenge narratives. All I can do is control my blocks”.
The 32-year old will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career in March. The Steelers are expected to be tight up against the salary cap even after maneuvering. He has only earned about $25 million over the course of his career. You can be sure that he’ll be looking to get paid, and there will be a market for a franchise left tackle, even on the wrong side of his 30s—just look at Andrew Whitworth.