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: C Maurkice Pouncey
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Maurkice Pouncey’s 2020 season, his 11th in the NFL, was almost certainly one of his worst since entering the league, capped off by the worst possible outcome on an opening play of a playoff game—a botched snap over the head of your quarterback resulting in a defensive touchdown.
Maurkice Pouncey was absolutely once a Pro Bowl-level player, one of the best centers in the NFL. He certainly has not been one of the top centers in the NFL in every one of his healthy seasons, even though he has been elected to the Pro Bowl in each of those nine years—missing all or nearly all of two seasons due to injury.
His Pro Bowl honorifics include the 2020 season, but it’s really hard to argue that it was merited. Despite running in the most rapid-release passing offense in the league, he still ranked near the middle of the pack in terms of total pressures allowed during the season among centers. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked 13th in pass blocking efficiency among qualifying centers.
But when you factor in the steps that he has taken backward in the run game and the fact that he continues to have an unusually high number of errant snaps for a center of his purported caliber and experience, you have to be concerned.
With all that being said, Pouncey is a starting center, and is capable of continuing to play. I’m not saying that they need to cut him. They’re not going to find a better answer at the position unless they draft one early, which is not impossible.
But it’s obvious that he is in the downside of his career, if not at the end, as we have previously heard that he is contemplating retirement. He has accomplished everything but playing in and winning a Super Bowl (he was injured when they reached the Super Bowl during his rookie season). But if Ben Roethlisberger stays, you have to figure that he stays one more year.