If there is one thing that goes hand in hand with the Pittsburgh Steelers it’s their highly criticized offensive lines. Even before the Steelers mediocre 2013 season began, when they were perennial playoff contenders the offensive line was repeatedly bashed by local and national media.
The Steelers organization has done their best to address the situation through the draft. Selecting Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams and David DeCastro in the top two rounds in their respective drafts should signify a stellar offensive line. That couldn’t be further from the reality that the Steelers, and Ben Roethlisberger, have experienced thus far.
Roethlisberger is a quarterback that will always take his hits. He will hold onto the ball too long, will try to make something out of nothing and will take sacks because of his style of play. However, his style of play isn’t always what causes the sacks.
Roethlisberger has been sacked 36 times this season and is on pace to break his personal record of being sacked 50 times in a season (2009). Nonetheless, there are signs of the Steelers offensive line improving.
In the first five games of the season Roethlisberger was sacked 18 times. The last five games he has been sacked 18 times. That doesn’t make it seem like there is any improvement, but when you watch the games you can see the improvement.
The first thing Steeler fans need to realize that this line is certainly not the line that opened up the season at Heinz Field against the Tennessee Titans. Pouncey is done for the year, Adams was removed from his duties at left tackle, Gilbert is in and out of the lineup with injuries and even DeCastro has had his share of injuries throughout the season. It is difficult for any line to show any form of cohesion without the same players playing along side one another day in and day out.
The scheme the coaches have put in place is finally working, and you saw what the no huddle offense can do in pass protection by wearing down a defense. Not allowing them time to rest and constantly keeping the defense guessing plays into the hands of an offensive line that struggles in pass protection.
I am not saying that this team is the best offensive line in the NFL, AFC, or even the AFC North. The offensive line is improving, and only giving up one sack to the Detroit Lions Sunday could be the confidence boost this line needs to keep Roethlisberger upright and the Steelers trying to turn their season around.
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz