The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Are the odds of B.J. Finney opening the regular season as the starting center better than most assume?
While many Steelers fans felt as though it had reached the point for Maurkice Pouncey that it was time for him to call it a career, there was also some anxiety associated with the inevitable transition, without the lack of a clear alternative. The only other center on the roster at that time was J.C. Hassenauer.
Since Pouncey’s retirement, the team brought back B.J. Finney after the Cincinnati Bengals let him go, and followed that up by drafting Kendrick Green in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. It has been the assumption since that point that it’s Green’s job to lose.
That is, perhaps, in part out of a fear that if Green is not ready right away, it’s a sign that he will not be as good as is hoped. Especially today, it is increasingly expected that rookies be ready to contribute straight out of college.
But center is a demanding position, and one that Green is still learning. Finney himself is no slouch. While he may lack in pedigree as a former college free agent, he does have quality tape showing him start at both guard and center. Things did not work out for him on the free agency circuit. There were extenuating circumstances involved there. He’s hungry to prove skeptics wrong.