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Mike Tomlin Says Kevin Dotson ‘Better’ Sunday, Group Still Working On ‘Minimizing Negativity’

Pittsburgh Steelers third-year offensive lineman Kevin Dotson was highly criticized for his play last week in the team’s (rare) win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The chief criticism was centered around his propensity to draw penalties, with one being particularly egregious, on which he was called for a hold and still allowed quarterback Kenny Pickett to take a hit that left him concussed.

In a since-deleted tweet that was the subject of death threats in response, he apologized for his play after the game and vowed to do better. The good news is that he did that. There is still a lot of room to grow for the offense as a whole, the offensive line more generally, and Dotson individually, but Sunday’s game was a sizeable improvement for him.

Even head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that in his post-game remarks when asked about Dotson and penalties. “It was better. It was better, but we’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously, just in terms of minimizing negativity”, he responded, commenting on both subjects. “You mentioned the motion penalty or procedural penalty on 3rd and 1 was significant. So, just as a collective, we’ve got continued room for growth there”.

Dotson was called for not one but two holding penalties last week. He was also flagged for a false start on the opening drive, turning a 3rd and 6 into a 3rd and 11. The offense was fortunately able to keep the chains moving and eventually got into the end zone, however.

Aside from the fact that he played cleaner football from an infraction perspective, his play on Sunday was improved all around, looking more confident and assured than he has in a while, at least taken as a whole.

Even Pro Football Focus recognized him, listing him as the highest-graded player on the Steelers for their game against the Miami Dolphins with a grade of 83.9, ahead of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick as the only other player graded over an 80.

For whatever that’s worth to you, of course. Mileage will vary. But it is the highest grade he’s gotten for a game this season, by a good margin outside of the 76.7 grade that he got all the way back in Week 2. Almost all of his other game grades for the 2022 season had been in the 50s. In fact, Sunday’s game was the highest-graded game by the outlet of his entire career, his first in the 80s.

Still, that doesn’t address the fact that the offense has a long way to go, with the line being a part of that. It’s mostly a matter of play-to-play consistency and staying on the same page, but frankly, the run-blocking coordination has been sub-par all year, and that’s not going to change, I think, without a coaching change.

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