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: Will Eric Ebron actually be a better blocker this year?
The Steelers knew when they signed him last year that Eric Ebron was not a blocker. Yet even he seemed surprised by what the team was expecting of him when he came here, alluding to the fact that he seemingly had not worked on blocking sleds since being in the NFL.
They didn’t bring him in for his blocking, but like anyone on the field, you’re going to have to block at some point. He had his assignments last year, and let’s say the results were mixed. Now, after having gone through a season struggling with his blocking assignments, and put into a new scheme, he claims to be motivated. But will we actually see a tangible improvement?
One way or the other, the Steelers aren’t going to be counting on him to be great in that department. He just needs to be good enough. But the team has been talking all offseason about how the whole unit has to be more physical and more committed to their blocking assignments. Chase Claypool even suggested the wide receivers are going to have to take on linebackers at times.
This is a full, team-wide commitment. Ebron is a part of that. Does he have it in him? And really, how much does it matter? One thing I think we can count on is that we’ll see less of him in blocking situations if he struggles, and more of rookie Pat Freiermuth.