Steelers starting guard James Daniels talked to the media before practice today about Mike Tomlin addressing the offensive line’s poor performance thus far, via a tweet by Steelers Live.
“It’s what is expected. I mean, we didn’t play well as a group, and it’s good that we have a coach that there’s no lack of communication. Like, he says the expectation and that’s the expectation. If we don’t play up to the expectation, we have someone that can say it. So that’s good that we have a coach that is able to do that. We just take the challenge, know the expectation, and try to meet it,” Daniels said.
To say that the line hasn’t met expectations would probably be an understatement. It’s just been downright bad, especially against Jacksonville on Saturday night, when the Steelers had 14 carries for 24 yards and despite only surrendering one sack, the quarterbacks were under constant pressure all night.
Per PFF, the Steelers had a 44.6 run blocking grade and surrendered 10 pressures in pass protection. Those numbers are not good, and they’ll need to improve if Pittsburgh wants to have a chance at competing in 2022.
It’s good that Tomlin called out the offensive line. It would’ve been surprising if he didn’t, but it sounds like he was able to make an example out of the group and let them know their performance isn’t acceptable. The offensive line play is going to have a big part in determining where this team goes, and if the unit keeps up their level of play, the team is going nowhere. It has to change, and it has to change soon.
Tomlin calling the group out will hopefully light a fire underneath them. This week in practice and during Sunday’s game against the Lions, they need to show that they can play a lot better than they have. It’s going to take the group working together as one unit and not a group of individuals and them trusting the technique they’re being taught by offensive line coach Pat Meyer.
There’s less than a month until the regular season kicks off, and the line’s performance has been very worrisome. If they don’t improve and improve rather quickly, it could end up being a long season in Pittsburgh, and it could be the first and last year this starting offensive line plays together. If the line struggles the way they have been, there will be changes in the offseason. Hopefully, they pick it up and they can show on Sunday that they’re a better group than what we’ve seen so far.