The news of David DeCastro’s release certainly sucks. Father Time remains undefeated, but his departure was so sudden unlike Maurkice Pouncey or Ramon Foster, who you suspected were considering retirement before making the announcement. Much of the focus, understandably, has been on the how and why. What led to his release (we now know it’s chronic ankle injuries) and why now (still unknown).
But let’s reflect on the career he enjoyed. Not how it came to an end. DeCastro is one of the best guards in Steelers’ history. Potentially the second best one only behind Alan Faneca. DeCastro was consistent, dependable, durable. An impressive athlete with good play strength.
Yesterday, I went through the old clips I’ve archived throughout the years that highlighted his best trait: His pulling. DeCastro was a central part of the team’s gap run scheme, pulling around and leading the way on these runs. Here’s seven or eight clips from recent years, 2016-2019, of some of his best pulls.
That’s just a small sampling of plays like these. You could put on any Bengals game from 2013-2019 and find the team running power with #66 out in front, especially in their four-minute offense to close out games. In one 2019 game, they pulled DeCastro 17 times. Pittsburgh averaged 5.4 yards per carry on those plays.
My favorite of the clips above is the one around the :34 second mark, the fold block between he and Maurkice Pouncey against the Bengals. DeCastro getting skinny through the hole like a running back and popping out the other side to square up on the linebacker. It’s a thing of beauty.
Faneca may still be the best pulling guard in franchise history, but DeCastro is a close second. His pulling with Le’Veon Bell’s patience (plus a great athlete and puller like Maurkice Pouncey) was a wicked combination that served the Steelers’ run game well for many years.