It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers’ worst-kept secret. There are serious question marks about their offensive line, across the board, and it will define their season. That’s the case many analysts have made, including NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, who joined Good Morning Football Monday morning to discuss the Steelers’ biggest concern heading into the year. He made his #1 issue crystal clear.
“They need to figure out the offensive line,” he told the show in a roundtable about the team’s biggest weakness. “I mean, this is the low-hanging fruit, I’m going to take it right off the bat here. We saw Banner coming back from that ACL. He’s the only starter from Week 1 last year that is returning on this offensive line. David DeCastro gone, Maurkice Pouncey gone, Al Villanueva gone as well. Who are the guys that are going to step up on this offensive line?”
That’s the million dollar question. Banner is the only returning starter from Week One of last year but tore his ACL in the first quarter of the opener, missing the rest of the season. A projected starting five of Okorafor-Dotson-Green-Turner-Banner have a combined 25 starts in a Steelers’ uniform.
Here’s how it breaks down.
Banner: 2 (one coming as a tackle eligible in 2019)
Turner, of course, has quality experience with the Carolina Panthers and started nine games for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020. But he’s new to a Steelers’ offensive line undergoing more changes than it has in maybe any offseason ever.
As a reference point, last year the Steelers’ offensive line had 265 starts in Pittsburgh. So that number has decreased by about 90% for the start of this season.
Garafolo made the point strong Steelers’ offensive lines have been the key to success of skill position guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown.
“Because as much as we’ve focused on Ben Roethlisberger over the years and Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell and the stars that they have on defense, we probably didn’t give enough respect to the Steelers offensive line over the years.”
The Steelers spent 2010-2012 investing heavily in their offensive line, drafting Pouncey, DeCastro, and Marcus Gilbert. They’re looking to do the same thing with guys like Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. while continuing to develop players like Okorafor and Banner.