Slowly but surely, the offensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers is getting better and better seemingly each and every week.
At this point in the process with a young group under a first-year position coach, that’s all one can reasonably expect. That’s the case with a Steelers starting five that has been remarkably healthy to this point in the season and on the field together for all but 46 snaps on the year.
Coming off of a strong game against the Indianapolis Colts from both a run blocking and pass blocking perspective, the Steelers moved up one spot in the latest offensive line position rankings from Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson Wednesday morning, passing the Los Angeles Chargers in the process to move into No. 23 overall.
Against the Colts in a 24-17 win, the Steelers dominated on the ground, rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries, with four players in Benny Snell Jr., Najee Harris, Kenny Pickett and Anthony McFarland rushing for 30 yards or more, marking the first time the franchise has done that since the 1990s and also marked the first time since December 18, 2005 against the Minnesota Vikings that the Steelers had four different players with at least six carries.
In the passing game, while rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett was sacked twice, overall the protection was good throughout, providing the rookie with relatively clean pockets against a front four that got off to a good start on Monday Night Football before fizzling out.
“James Daniels was the only member of the line to allow more than one pressure on Monday night against the Colts. Pittsburgh’s line ranks eighth in PFF pass-blocking efficiency over the season,” Monson writes regarding the Steelers’ offensive line following the Week 12 win over the Colts.
In the win over Indianapolis, four of the Steelers’ starting five in the trenches recorded a pass blocking grade of 72.5 or higher. Dan Moore Jr. led the way with an 86.8 overall in what was one of his better games of the year, while Kevin Dotson recorded an 83.3. Chukwuma Okorafor came in at 77.9, and Mason Cole came in at 73.0.
James Daniels, surprisingly, graded out at a 45.1 in pass blocking on the night.
Overall, the Steelers allowed just five pressures and three hurries against the Colts. Daniels allowed two pressures and two hurries, while Moore Jr. allowed one pressure and was charged with one sack. Okorafor allowed one pressure and one hurry as well. Dotson and Cole didn’t allow a pressure or hurry in 35 pass blocking reps.
From a run game perspective, the offensive line didn’t grade out as well despite having a dominant night on the ground. Cole led the way with a 70.5 grade from a run blocking standpoint, while Moore came in at 61.0. Daniels, (49.6), Okorafor (42.5) and Dotson (32.9) all graded out poorly as run blockers, which doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense.
Looking to build off of a strong showing, the Steelers’ offensive line gets to take on an Atlanta pass rush that has shown flashes throughout the season with the likes of Grady Jarrett, Lorenzo Carter and rookie Arnold Ebekite, but overall it’s an inconsistent one.
“Atlanta fields the second-worst pass-rush in the league and ranks average as a run-defense unit. This is a good spot for an offensive line to impress,” Monson writes.
We’ll see if the Steelers’ offensive line can keep stacking strong showings down the stretch under first-year offensive line coach Pat Meyer. As of late, the group has been pretty darn solid overall.