The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line enters the 2021 season with more questions than any other group on the roster, with zero players returning to a position in which they were the intended starter for more than one game on the team previously. Every single starter is, as yet, an unproven player in one sense or another.
And yet they enter the regular season brimming with confidence in their abilities—and not just because they were one of the highest-graded offensive lines during the preseason by Pro Football Focus. According to arguably the starter the average fan feels best about, left guard Kevin Dotson, that confidence stems from offensive line coach Adrian Klemm.
After spending the past two seasons as the assistant offensive line coach behind Shaun Sarrett, the Steelers decided to make a change, not renewing Sarrett’s contract and promoting Klemm, and allowing him to install a new philosophy, one that is grounded in physicality and aggressiveness as well as fundamentals.
“I think it comes from Klemm. He instilled that in us, that that’s gonna be our mindset, that we are gonna be the reason we win”, Dotson said of where their confidence originates. “We’re gonna be the reason that everybody else is thriving. Wide receivers have to do their job, we have to do our job. Wide receivers can’t get their stuff done if we don’t get our stuff done. So we’re kind of holding up the whole team”.
While the Steelers’ offense didn’t exactly light the world on fire during the preseason—although it actually did rather well in the brief time that the projected starting five was out there—the offensive line as a whole probably performed at least at or slightly above expectations.
There is still a question, though, of what the tackle situation will look like on opening day, and that could revolve around Zach Banner’s status, which is growing increasingly unclear. After playing only two drives during the preseason, he reportedly did not practice today, with rookie Dan Moore Jr. playing on the left side and Chukwuma Okorafor, the projected left tackle, sliding to the right, where he started 16 games last year.
Could this be the formulation that we see on opening day, bookmarking an interior trio of Dotson, rookie Kendrick Green, and veteran Trai Turner? At this point, we can only speculate, though it should be said that Moore handled himself pretty well at left tackle, his native position.