Eight weeks into the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line play has seemingly gone in the wrong direction.
After starting off the 2022 season in strong fashion overall, climbing as high as No. 13 in Pro Football Focus’ positional rankings in the trenches, the Steelers’ offensive line has been in sharp decline the last two weeks.
Following a rather poor performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8 in a 35-13 loss that saw the group allow a season-high 23 pressures on 57 drop backs — not to mention numerous penalties — the Steelers’ offensive line fell two more spots in PFF’s rankings Wednesday morning, compiled by Sam Monson.
Currently, the Steelers sit No. 23 overall, which is the second-lowest they’ve been all season. Maybe the bye week is coming at the perfect time for the black and gold.
“Game flow put the Steelers in a hole against Philadelphia in Week 8, and the offensive line had to pass protect 57 times. Both tackles allowed at least six pressures and a penalty each,” Monson writes reading the Steeles offensive line. “This has been a better pass-blocking unit than run-blocking, but it has shown clear limitations against elite opposition or in unfavorable situations.”
Hard to argue with anything Monson writes there regarding the Steelers offensive line under first-year position coach Pat Meyer.
The offensive line is much better in pass protection than in run blocking, based on grades, which is pretty clear on film too, which has led to significant struggles in the run game for the black and gold.
According to PFF, here’s how the Steelers starting offensive line grades out in pass blocking: James Daniels (76.6), Kevin Dotson (68.3), Dan Moore Jr. (62.8), Chukwuma Okorafor (62.4), Mason Cole (58.3).
As run blockers, it’s not much better. Here’s how that looks: Okorafor (65.9), Dotson (65.5), Cole (64.7), Daniels (63.8), Moore Jr. (50.5).
The group has had its ups and downs throughout the season, even dating back to training camp while attempting to learn Meyer’s new techniques at the position. The early portion of the season seemed like things were going to trend in the right direction, but as always water finds its level, and the offensive line has come back to earth in both areas of the game.
That’s pretty concerning moving forward, considering the Steelers simply can’t run the football, and asking rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett to drop back 40-50 times a game is not a winning formula and is conducive to the young quarterback’s development, especially behind a shaky pass blocking group up front.