For years the Pittsburgh Steelers have been able to clog up the middle of an opposing offensive line and as a result they were nearly next to impossible to run against.
Much of that was because they could rely on the presence of Casey Hampton taking up two blockers allowing the Steelers middle linebackers to roam free to make tackles.
Hampton’s no longer in the NFL and through three games of the 2013 season we have found out that his replacement Steve McLendon is no Casey Hampton even when Hampton begin to slow down. In fact you have to wonder if McLendon should really be a starter on any NFL team at this point.
The differences between Hampton and McLendon are glaring, not that it’s fair to compare McLendon to a multiple time Pro-Bowl nose tackle. But when you start to dissect all of the problems the Steelers’ defense has at the moment, McLendon’s performance should be one of the causes for concern.
Through three games the Steelers have been run on with much greater success than in the past and the disturbing part is all three opponents have had success moving the chains in between the tackles.
So far the Steelers defense ranks only 22nd in the league in stopping the run, allowing an average of 115.3 yards per game. A big reason for that is the fact that McLendon is getting pushed around the field with ease, often by one blocker.
Steelers’ fans called for more of McLendon last season after a strong showing in the preseason, but he has shown next to nothing since camp initially began. The facts are that before this season he was a guy with less than 100 NFL snaps under his belt and it shows.
However being green is one thing, getting manhandled every week is another story altogether.
It makes you wonder if the Steelers overestimated what they had in McLendon as he has done net to nothing to reward their confidence in him.
However there’s nothing really behind McLendon that would solve the problems at the moment as depth on the interior line is just like the Steelers’ depth at almost every other position- nonexistent.
One thing is clear though and that is the fact that McLendon, like many other players wearing the black-and-gold, must up his level of play. If he continues to get abused like a tackling dummy, a change will have to be made before long.