It’s important within an offensive line to have talent. It’s important within an offensive line to have quality coaching. But equally important is having cohesion within a five-man group—really, within a nine-man group, or however many offensive linemen you may have and would need to play.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a hard time with all phases of the offensive line last year, but especially in terms of cohesion. Not only were they playing four new starters, including three players who were completely new to the team, two of whom were rookies, but they also shuffled the projected starting lineup just before the season, due to injury.
This year, the Steelers should have at least two new starters, and perhaps more, after signing two veterans in free agency, but they are experienced players who understand the importance of that group mentality—especially Mason Cole, who has already experienced moving around to different teams. So he appreciates the situation he’s entering, with a new line and a new coach.
“That is huge”, he said about being a new guy stepping into a room that is also new, via Teresa Varley for the Steelers’ website. “But nothing is ever given in this league. Everything has to be earned. No matter what the situation, you still have to go in and play really well and try to be a leader and help that room be cohesive and play together. A big thing for me is playing together as a group, as a room. It will be huge for this team. That is a big part of my play and what I want to do here”.
The center position naturally lends itself to an assist role, and communication is essential as well, so it should be no surprise that Cole, who is the favorite right now to open the season at center, would have a particular appreciation for cohesion along the offensive line.
Although presumed right guard James Daniels is also new to the team, he, like Cole, is also an experienced veteran, and at least before the draft, the rest of the offensive line is projected to remain the same, at least with Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle and Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle. Kevin Dotson will be challenged for the left guard position, but was the primary starter there last season.
They will be taught by an entirely new offensive line coaching tandem of Pat Meyer and Isaac Williams, after both Adrian Klemm and Chris Morgan found jobs elsewhere. Klemm departed for a college job late last season. Morgan was named the offensive line coach of the Bears.
So, will new coaches, and new experienced starters, and internal growth from their own young starters, be enough to turn this offensive line into a competent unit that will allow the Steelers to run their offense the way they intend? That’s one of the biggest questions of the year.