Former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger hopped on 105.5 WDVE Thursday morning and talked about the NFL playoffs and the quarterbacks that are playing in the postseason as well as gave his thoughts on the Steelers’ 2022 season and specifically how he thinks the team can improve next season under OC Matt Canada who is going to be back with the team for another year.
When Mike Prisuta asked Ben if the offense will be more aggressive in Year 2 with Kenny Pickett at the helm, Ben responded that he expects the offense to take a step forward in terms of being aggressive but believes that improvement along the offensive line could go a long way in aiding Pickett and the skill positions players to generate more explosive plays.
“I don’t know, Mike, in terms of who’s coming back up front, but if you can keep that group together or even add a piece, I don’t know what they need to draft, but why not?” Roethlisberger said. “Why not bolster that line somehow? I think that would help in all phases. Cause sometimes when you’re not taking shots down the field, it’s because you don’t feel confident that you have the time to do it. So, I think that they’ve shown that they have the weapons to get down the field and the back. And so, you’d like to see what that looks like next year and you can see Kenny get the ball down the field.”
The offensive line has been a controversial talking point for anyone following Steelers football for some time now. The unit was downright dreadful last season, leading to the team signing G James Daniels and C Mason Cole in free agency this past offseason. The unit went through some growing pains to start the season as the running game was non-existent and both Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett hardly had any time to throw the ball down the field as the pass rush constantly pressured the QB.
However, the unit shows signs of improvement after the bye week, becoming a force in the ground game as Pittsburgh’s rushing attack looked revitalized down the stretch. The pass protection also improved as Pickett cut down on his turnovers and the offense was able to put together multiple game-winning drives in the fourth quarter, a feat that they couldn’t accomplish to start the season.
Daniels really came into his own in the second half of the year and Cole proved Pittsburgh right that he can be a trusted starter now and in the immediate future. Chukwuma Okorafor was his average self for the most part of the season and even Kevin Dotson and Dan Moore Jr. showed signs of improvement. Still, Moore and Dotson struggle from inconsistent, frustrating play at times, so perhaps the Steelers will look to improve at either LT or LG this offseason like Ben suggested.
The unit was good enough to get the job done last season, but “good enough” isn’t going to cut it for a team desperately needing to create more splash plays and make some noise in the postseason. With three picks in the top 50 in this year’s draft, Pittsburgh is in a great position to add a difference-maker to the offensive line to better protect Pickett and improve the running game should they choose to do so come April.