The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will the play of the interior offensive line be above average this year?
The offensive line play as a whole last season was rather under par, and not in the golfing sense. Most likely, there will be at least two new starters along the interior, however, in the form of free agent acquisitions James Daniels and Mason Cole.
Cole is presumed to be the Steelers’ new starter, taking over for Kendrick Green, who started as a rookie last season. Daniels plugs in at right guard, where the team has Trai Turner, who has become a bit of a journeyman in the back half of his career. Turner was an emergency signing after it was learned that David DeCastro would not play.
The only player who has a good chance of returning to the starting lineup, and in the same spot, is Kevin Dotson, who started nine games at left guard, but went down with an injury in the second half of the year. Dotson also entered training camp injured; arguably, he was never really that healthy.
With Daniels, Cole, and perhaps a healthier and more driven Dotson—or Green or J.C. Hassenauer in his place—I think everyone is more or less in agreement that the interior offensive line will be better than it was in 2021.
But how much better? Will their play be genuinely good, a positive aspect of the Steelers’ offensive football? Can they rise to the level of above average? Obviously, that rests partly on your assumption of what ‘average’ interior offensive line play represents, so I will have to leave that up to your discretion rather than try to create a barometer for it.