For years, the Steelers have had one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, but this season, like the rest of the offense, they have failed to meet expectations. For a veteran group like this that has been playing together for so long, it’s unacceptable for them to be overwhelmed on such a consistent basis, especially in the running game. For a unit as good as this one used to be, what exactly has gone wrong?
It all starts with the loss of coach Mike Munchak to the Denver Broncos this offseason. Long seen as an elite offensive line coach, Munchak’s style of coaching really seemed to get through to his linemen in Pittsburgh, and now that he’s gone, it appears the team has totally forgotten everything he had taught them. It was expected that the line would miss Munchak’s presence, but this type of regression is something nobody saw coming.
On paper, the Steelers five starters along the offensive line can stack up against any other team in the league. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva has been a consistent presence as an all-important blindside protector, while right tackle Matt Feiler has developed into a starting-caliber player. At the guard positions, Ramon Foster and David Decastro are long-time starters with Pro Bowl appearances and general solid play, while Maurkice Pouncey has been a fixture at the center position. Between five linemen that talented, there is no excuse for their inconsistent performance this season.
There is plenty of reason to be optimistic, after all, it was just last season that this offensive line was arguably the league’s best. With that said, we can only grade based on the season so far, not the potential for improvement the rest of the way, and that’s reflected here.