The Pittsburgh Steelers’ severe struggles in the run-game were analyzed a thousand different ways last season by us and others. Many took issue with the fact the Steelers’ offensive line was almost always in a pass-block stance. A hand-up, two-point stance nearly every single snap. But with a much different-looking offensive line and a new head offensive line coach in Adrian Klemm, the Steelers’ front five will be putting their hand in the dirt in a three-point stance a lot more often this season.
Kevin Dotson explained Klemm is looking to get the line, specifically the tackles, to line up in three-point stances more often in 2021.
“He’s emphasized [three-point stances] more definitely for the tackles,” Dotson said via a Zoom call courtesy of the team. “More often doing three-point stance. Last year I did it the whole year, so it didn’t really change for me. But some of the guards, they did two-point stances last year. You’re trying to get a little bit away from that. To be able to come off the ball a little more.”
The Steelers’ offensive line clearly wasn’t physical enough last year. That was for a variety of reasons but it’s fair to argue their stance and alignment didn’t help. Playing with your hand down means being able to fire off the ball better than having your hand-up. The two-point stance is a bit more passive and the Steelers’ lack of physicality reflected that.
But simply having your hand down isn’t the cure-all. The Steelers ran the ball well enough over the first four games of 2020 and their stances didn’t change. They’ve also had success running the ball in seasons past with a group who played in a two-point stance, so that alone isn’t the issue. There are also drawbacks to mixing up stances. It opens yourself to more run/pass tells, so Klemm and OC Matt Canada will have to be cognizant of that in their self-scouting.
As he mentioned, for Dotson, this won’t be much of a change. He was the only offensive lineman to regularly put his hand in the ground, just as he did in college at UL-Lafayette. Here’s a look at how they lined up in Week 2 against Denver. Dotson is the only one with his hand in the ground.
Now it sounds like the rest of the group will join him. All in an attempt to get Pittsburgh’s running game out of the basement they occupied all of last season. It’s impossible to predict how much better these changes will make the team. But it’s hard to be much worse than they were.