Tomlin Commends The Progress Of His Offensive Line: ‘It’s Been Fun To Watch The Cohesion Come Together’

On Tuesday, HC Mike Tomlin spoke to the media in his weekly press conference where he talked about the team’s win this past Sunday at home against the New Orleans Saints and previewed the team’s upcoming Week 11 matchup on the road Sunday against their AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals who are coming off their bye week.

When Tomlin was asked about the development of the team’s offensive line and the strides the unit has taken forward the last couple weeks in the run blocking department, Tomlin iterated that it was always going to be a process to get this young, inexperienced unit comfortable with each other, but the process is starting to reap the results.

“They’re not a group that looks for acknowledgement,” Tomlin said to the media Tuesday on video from the team’s YouTube channel. “They understood the amount of attention that was going to be on them because so many of them were new and the collective development was going to be a process. In the midst of that, we had to be productive enough and to show resolve and collective commitment, and they’ve done that. So, as long as they continue to do that, it’s reasonable to expect the growth and development to continue in all areas, not just the run game.”

Ever since last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line was seen as one of the worst in football. They have consistently ranked near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to other OL units in the league, but Pro Football Focus has recognized the improved play by Pittsburgh’s OL as well in recent weeks, ranking them 23rd overall in the league as of the team’s Week 8 loss to the Eagles and should rise higher after Sunday’s win against the Saints.

Pittsburgh managed to run for over 200 yards Sunday at home, springing multiple runners on carries over 20 yards, a feat that the team hadn’t accomplished on one occasion thus far in 2022. Najee Harris looked rejuvenated and had space to work, breaking past the front line into the second level, resembling the workhorse feature back that Pittsburgh drafted him to be last season in the first round thanks to the OL’s efforts upfront.

While Tomlin said that time and continual work together to form a cohesive unit were the primary components that the OL needed to work out to see improved performance on the football field, he also mentioned specific aspects of the game the group had been working on to improve overall execution.

“Just the nature of how they put four hands on people,” Tomlin continued regarding the improvement of Pittsburgh’s run blocking. “The movement we’re getting when we choose to double. The understanding of the timing of when to come off and when not to come off double teams, and that’s just born out of cooperative work. One man working with another. It’s been fun to watch the cohesion come together between J.D. [James Daniels] and Chuks, for example.”

Technique is important for every NFL position, especially the offensive line who are often put at a disadvantage having to stop full-grown men from getting to the QB without getting penalized. On top of this familiarity is vital for an OL to gel and be comfortable playing with either man beside him. Tomlin mentioned RG James Daniels and RT Chukwuma Okorafor by name as two guys that had to take some time to develop that continuity with each other to better execute double teams and play off each other depending on what the opposition is showing them across the LOS.

The offensive line is by no means a finished product as there is still plenty of youth and inexperience especially on the left side. However, it’s great to see that progress has been made by a group that has been heavily scrutinized for a year-plus, being a big reason Pittsburgh came out of Sunday’s game with a win. Hopefully, we see this development continue as Tomlin said as the unit gets more experience playing together and build a continuity to resemble a quality starting OL in the league down the stretch of 2022 and into the future.

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