The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line had been shambolic the past few years. As guys like Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, and Alejandro Villanueva started to age and eventually move on from the Steelers the unit started to fail the team. However, this year the offensive line unit started to gel once again, and a big reason for that may have been bringing back a tradition the previous unit had.
In November, Pouncey was on Ben Roethlisberger’s podcast Footbahlin’, and talked about how every Thursday night during the season he and the fellow offensive lineman would get together at someone’s house hang out. Pouncey emphasized how important that was in building chemistry.
The past few seasons, the Steelers’ offensive line didn’t have much chemistry as they would consistently blow assignments, get beat, and not be on the same page. This year, though, it changed. One reason for this may be because the unit brought back a tradition started by Pouncey, Foster, and the rest of the gang.
In an article written by Teresa Varley on Steelers.com, Dan Moore Jr. said after talking with Ramon Foster he and the offensive lineman decided to bring the weekly get-togethers back.
“I’ve talked with Ramon and that was something that he mentioned they used to do,” Moore told Varley. “I mean, it worked for them. So, hey, if it’s not broke, then you don’t have to fix it, right?”
Moore said the new iteration of the weekly hang out is a bit different than the previous, telling Varley that they do various things as a group and it doesn’t always involve going to someone’s house.
“We were trying to make an effort to just hang out outside of the locker room, do stuff together, get to know one another, get to know each other’s backgrounds and families. Doing something as a group, going out to eat, having fun, going to Topgolf or something similar.”
As the season went on the offensive line’s chemistry continued to grow and it showed on the field. After the bye week, the Steelers offensive line powered a rushing attack Pittsburgh hasn’t seen in years. In the final nine games of the season, the team surpassed the 100-yard mark eight times, averaging an impressive 146 yards per game.
The return of the offensive line’s weekly get-together tradition may have sparked the turnaround in an offensive line unit that was much maligned in the past few years. While it may be different, if the impact results in great play and winning football games, I’m sure the originators won’t complain too much.