The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had an offensive unit that was this unsettled in a number of years, and it is largely the unsurprising byproduct of almost completely turning over your starting offensive line from one season to another. There are certainly other concerns, but little else has a chance of improving until the offensive line does.
But there were, perhaps, some signs of improvement this past week. The line got more push in the run game, for example, and as a result, rookie running back Najee Harris had more success than he has had in his first three games. The pass protection was also trending in the right direction—Kenny Clark only had one quarterback hit.
“I just think it’s a continual effort to get better. Not even just weekly, but daily”, right guard Trai Turner told reporters yesterday. “Just working to improve throughout the week so that we can show it on Sundays”.
Turner is the most experienced player on the line, even if he is the newest to the team, signed in late June as a free agent. The starting lineup also includes two rookies in Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. and a second-year player in Kevin Dotson, who had his best game of the year so far.
“I will say I think we come out and we work really hard”, Turner said of his offensive line room. “We have a really young, talented group that has to continue to play ball, continue to gel to gain continuity. We could take some positives from this game, but as I said, we have some strides to make”.
The only lineman who came into this season with five or more starts other than Turner was Chukwuma Okorafor, who previously started 18 games at right tackle, but all of them were as an injury replacement. Zach Banner was supposed to start at right tackle, but is currently on the Reserve/Injured List. He has just one career start, the season opener last year, in which he tore his ACL.
“Not particularly everything that we wanted out of the game”, Turner said of his group’s performance this past Sunday. “We didn’t finish the way that we wanted to finish, but there’s always some positive that you can take, and there are some things that we can build upon. We have a pretty young group, so as many positives as we can pull from, we try to”.
This group still has a long way to go, but you’ve got to start somewhere, after all. If they can use the small improvements that we say against the Green Bay Packers as a springboard to continuing to grow and get better and more consistent, then perhaps there is something here after all.