With some extra time during the bye week, I wanted to spend some additional film study on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line. We’ve talked about them as a unit, which is how they generally get judged by, but less so as individuals. Going back through the tape in their Week 6 win over Seattle, I honed in on RT Chukwuma Okorafor’s performance. He’s upped his play but I noticed a definite strength and weakness in his game.
Simply put, Okorafor did well when asked to seal the edge against outside rushes. He struggled the most when forced to mirror inside moves and counters. Let’s check out a couple clips.
I’ve compiled these clips into one video. The first several examples (and there are many others) show Okorafor’s ability to seal the edge against speed. Against different defenders and body types, he has the athleticism to seal defenders up the arc and not allow the corner.
It was a different story against inside moves. At least three times, Okorafor got beat to the inside. In the first clip, he was able to hang onto Carlos Dunlap enough before getting some help from RG Trai Turner. He’s oversetting in these clips and getting a lot of width, allowing the defender to counter inside.
It’s worth pointing out in two of these clips, the line is sliding to his side. Part of the protection and a lineman’s pass set is based off where your help is at. But the right guard Turner is covered up by the DT in both of these clips so Okorafor can’t assume he’s going to have help here, even with Turner and Green sliding.
There’s no doubt it’s tough to be on an island against a wider aligned rusher. If he’s 1v1, the defender has a lot of space to win. When Pittsburgh had bigger tackles like Alejandro Villanueva, they’d often have him vertical set, getting depth but not width, because they had the size to seal the edge with their length and strength. In fact in that last clip of the above video, you’ll see #71 Joe Haeg vertical set. It’s a little tougher for Okorafor because he isn’t quite as big and strong as those other guys.
Overall, Okorafor has held his own in pass protection this year. He deserves credit for that. But breaking down his game, especially against Seattle, you clearly see some of his strengths and weaknesses.