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NKySteeler
08-01-2008, 02:11 PM
It's time to worry about line
by Dale Lolley

The announcer on the stadium's public address system, a feature added just for Wednesday's practice, called the exercise a "passing under pressure drill."

The Steelers' quarterbacks better get used to.

In 17 games last season, including the playoff loss to Jacksonville, Pittsburgh quarterbacks were sacked 53 times.

Not all of those sacks can be blamed on the offensive line. Judging from the first week of training camp, it doesn't look like things are going to get better in 2008.

A casual observer would say either the Steelers defense is really good, or the offensive line just stinks.

Don't get me wrong, Pittsburgh's defense is good. It ranked first in the NFL in yards allowed in 2007.

But let's not confuse the facts. The offensive line is getting manhandled on most plays at Saint Vincent College.

When the first-team offense has gone up against the first-team defense on running plays, most of them end with a pile of bodies in the backfield or, at best, at the line of scrimmage. When the quarterbacks have dropped back to pass, they have been sitting ducks. Fortunately, hitting the quarterback is not allowed in practice.

It hasn't been a pretty sight.

To be fair, Chris Kemoeatu, who is expected to replace Alan Faneca at left guard, and Marvel Smith, the starting left tackle, have each missed time because of injuries. Kemoeatu has a triceps strain and has yet to practice, and Smith sat out Wednesday with a sore groin.

It's not just that the line is looking outclassed in those team blocking drills. The individual work has not been very good.

Second-year man LaMarr Woodley, who will start at left outside linebacker in place of Clark Haggans, has looked unblockable, regardless of who is lined up against him in one-on-one drills. James Harrison, the Pro Bowl right outside backer, has looked just as good.

The Steelers don't seemed concerned. Maybe it's because Kemoeatu hasn't practiced. But it's not realistic to believe he'll be as good as Faneca.

Even with Faneca, last year's line was a mess.

The battle at center between incumbent starter Sean Mahan and newcomer Justin Hartwig hasn't exactly been all that heated.

Mahan, who played below expectations last season, has taken the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense. Hartwig has seen less time than expected. Neither appears to be a long-term answer at the position.

Maybe it's too early in training camp to worry about such things. Maybe the Steelers have some grand scheme to improve Roethlisberger's protection.

Maybe that will include Roethlisberger calling his own plays and running the no-huddle to keep opposing defenses from zeroing in on him.

"In high school and college, when things are going faster and I'm calling stuff, it always seems to work out better for me," Roethlisberger said.

Also, if you don't allow the defense to huddle, those players will probably get tired of chasing him at some point.

frankthetank1
08-01-2008, 03:02 PM
great, looks like my worst fears for 2008 will come true.

SteelTorch
08-01-2008, 03:08 PM
Well, that can't be good. Hopefully, this is just a passing thing. But thanks Colbert, Tomlin, and Cowher for letting the LoS deteriorate to this. :roll:

And yet, we still have idiots like DVSONE blaming Parker for the running game's problems, or other toolbags claiming the reason for the sacks is that Big Ben holds on too long. Please.

steelblood
08-01-2008, 03:17 PM
Please bring in Bentley and at least give him a workout. Cripes, this is ridiculous. It is time to protect that 100 million dollar investment.

BIG FAN
08-01-2008, 03:17 PM
Oh Boy!
I guess since it's going on two years after these needs should have been addressed, NOW it's time to worry.
:shock:

NKySteeler
08-01-2008, 03:38 PM
I think everyone has a concern about the O-line, but this kind of update just gives me a sick feeling in my stomach... Hey, maybe with some MORE time to gel, they will get it together, who knows... And you gotta admit, going against our D is not the easiest thing to do... But I still just don't like the sounds of this. :?

costanza2k1
08-01-2008, 03:47 PM
:x :x :x :x :x :x

I hope that our defense is that good...we could be in for a long season or a lot of max protect which will reduce our offensive output...

Man this sucks.

RuthlessBurgher
08-01-2008, 03:48 PM
Hopefully, this is just a passing thing.

Of course it is just a passing thing. The line seems to do reasonably well blocking for that running thing. :wink:

AkronSteel
08-01-2008, 04:16 PM
It's early, the defense always progresses faster than the offense in TC. Now if this is continuing into the last preseason game, then I will worry. We all know that this line is going to take some time coming together. It would be nice to see Bentley, but I'm not holding my breath. Ill wait and see what the product is against Houston and then start to make my judgements!

NKySteeler
08-01-2008, 04:30 PM
We all know that this line is going to take some time coming together.

Very true.... But we said that ALL YEAR last season... First, they need to decide on a center and give it to Hartwig... Second, they need to let them get alot of work in together as a complete unit... But either way, there is not a whole lot different from last season, which is what has me somewhat concerned.

AkronSteel
08-01-2008, 04:37 PM
We all know that this line is going to take some time coming together.

Very true.... But we said that ALL YEAR last season... First, they need to decide on a center and give it to Hartwig... Second, they need to let them get alot of work in together as a complete unit... But either way, there is not a whole lot different from last season, which is what has me somewhat concerned.

I totally agree on setting a first unit and letting it grow. I think that was one of the major problems we had last year. Plus having an anchor who couldn't do the job didn't help. I think that if we put Hartwig in the middle and Kemo comes back soon then we should just set the line after the game against Philly and let them play next to each other. The line shuffling last year was annoying! I would say if Kemo isn't practicing by next week then Essex or Mahan should get the job for continuity purposes.

RuthlessBurgher
08-01-2008, 04:38 PM
We all know that this line is going to take some time coming together.

Very true.... But we said that ALL YEAR last season... First, they need to decide on a center and give it to Hartwig... Second, they need to let them get alot of work in together as a complete unit... But either way, there is not a whole lot different from last season, which is what has me somewhat concerned.

I totally agree on setting a first unit and letting it grow. I think that was one of the major problems we had last year. Plus having an anchor who couldn't do the job didn't help. I think that if we put Hartwig in the middle and Kemo comes back soon then we should just set the line after the game against Philly and let them play next to each other. The line shuffling last year was annoying! I would say if Kemo isn't practicing by next week then Essex or Mahan should get the job for continuity purposes.

Nah...put Colon at LG, then let your $7 million man start at RT.

NKySteeler
08-01-2008, 04:44 PM
I would say if Kemo isn't practicing by next week then Essex or Mahan should get the job for continuity purposes.

:Agree

NKySteeler
08-01-2008, 04:47 PM
Nah...put Colon at LG, then let your $7 million man start at RT.

Question: Why move Colon out of the RT position (he was originally listed there last season) when Mahan has experience at guard?

blacknblue80s
08-01-2008, 09:14 PM
Nah...put Colon at LG, then let your $7 million man start at RT.

Question: Why move Colon out of the RT position (he was originally listed there last season) when Mahan has experience at guard?

IIRC Mahan lost his starting job after 1 season starting at guard for Tampa. They even drafted a Guard (Davin Joseph) to replace him.

I wonder if Essex can become the LG many of us were hoping Colon would be?

NKySteeler
08-01-2008, 09:20 PM
IIRC Mahan lost his starting job after 1 season starting at guard for Tampa. They even drafted a Guard (Davin Joseph) to replace him.

... Then apparently Mahan isn't too great at either position.

blacknblue80s
08-01-2008, 09:28 PM
IIRC Mahan lost his starting job after 1 season starting at guard for Tampa. They even drafted a Guard (Davin Joseph) to replace him.

... Then apparently Mahan isn't too great at either position.

I prefer to say Mahan has reached undreamed of levels of suckiness...

NKySteeler
08-01-2008, 09:33 PM
I prefer to say Mahan has reached undreamed of levels of suckiness...

:Clap ........... Agreed!
...I don't want him at center. He can't stop a NT from the rush... I figure he'll be a decent backup to Kemo, but he (Kemo) needs to get off the PUP list and start playing first...

Shawn
08-01-2008, 09:53 PM
Can we try to refrain from panic until we actually have our full line out there?

blacknblue80s
08-01-2008, 10:25 PM
Can we try to refrain from panic until we actually have our full line out there?

I guess I can refrain for now... but if Mahan wins the starting center position can we panic then??

Ozey74
08-01-2008, 10:30 PM
Can we try to refrain from panic until we actually have our full line out there?

I guess I can refrain for now... but if Mahan wins the starting center position can we panic then??


I can refrain, but it's not a confident refrain.

:(

AkronSteel
08-02-2008, 12:39 AM
Can we try to refrain from panic until we actually have our full line out there?

I guess I can refrain for now... but if Mahan wins the starting center position can we panic then??

I don't think that we as fans have to worry about Mahan being the starting C. From everything that I have read, Hartwig has looked very good through out individual and team drills. Plus, Mahan sat out tonight's practice and Hartwig looked great with the first team so I don't see this as being anything more than lip service to a returning player who we all know is about to lose his job. Hartwig will not allow the pressure up the middle that plagued the team last year.

:2c

Steel Life
08-02-2008, 01:08 AM
Can we try to refrain from panic until we actually have our full line out there?

Just think of it as a musical refrain SMG, simliar to that ols schoolyard chant..."Mahan sucks, despite big bucks, now he's laid an egg!...Hartwig signed, to reinforce the line after Alan got away!"

Kinda catchy isn't it... :wink:

buckeyehoppy
08-02-2008, 02:36 AM
I don't think that we as fans have to worry about Mahan being the starting C. From everything that I have read, Hartwig has looked very good through out individual and team drills. Plus, Mahan sat out tonight's practice and Hartwig looked great with the first team so I don't see this as being anything more than lip service to a returning player who we all know is about to lose his job. Hartwig will not allow the pressure up the middle that plagued the team last year.

:2c

That's how I understood the prevailing logic...that Hartwig was able to close the deal on bull rushers up the gut. That was evidently his caling card.

I don't know why they would even consider Mahan at C after last season's abortion. If Mahan can't hack it at G, then eat the contract and launch his @$$. It doesn't say much for Stapleton if Mahan is even getting looks at C.

I'll be seeing for myself on Monday and I plan to take a good, hard look at the OL. I need to like what I see.

buckeyehoppy
08-02-2008, 03:03 PM
And now the Steelers re-sign Legursky. That really doesn't bode well for Mr. Stapleton, looking at it as a bystander.

Like I said, I'll see for myself on Monday. As someone posted here previously, the D usually has an advantage right off the bat when camp starts. This is true in football in general. I think we'll all have a better indicator as to what the Steelers can do on the OL when they start playing live games with other teams and not scrimmaging against themselves.

But, I think that the Steelers need to settle on who will be playing where on the OL by the end of this coming week. Then, they need to drill that unit constantly.

Ben also needs to get with these guys and get them on the same page as him. I think if Ben gets to change up his approach to the game, as well as get the chance to call his own plays, run no-huddle and the shotgun (assuming there is a C that can snap the shotgun without getting smoked), that might give the entire offense enough flexibility to keep defenses off-balance.

It helps to have a great OL. But sometimes the game plan can cover for a multitude of sins. Mr. Arians, as an experienced NFL OC, should be able to know how to gear the O to the relative strengths and weaknesses of his individual units.

frankthetank1
08-02-2008, 03:10 PM
my biggest fear is that the o-line isnt better this year than last AND they dont make nessasary adjustments. if they had ben do more 2 step drops, screens, drags anything to get the ball out of bens hands quickly, then the sacks wont get out of hand and teams cant blitz as much. i didnt see much adjustments last year to counter the horrid line play. i really hope its just lip service that there is actually a battle at center. if mahan is starting it better be at LG. if that happens that means starks better be on the bench because colon should be starting no matter what. i hate the franchising starks deal a lot, but the big plus is that god forbid someone gets hurt, which will happen most likely. at least they have a decent back up. i know its an expensive back up but thats the only plus about paying starks for one year

RuthlessBurgher
08-02-2008, 03:52 PM
Nah...put Colon at LG, then let your $7 million man start at RT.

Question: Why move Colon out of the RT position (he was originally listed there last season) when Mahan has experience at guard?

I think you should put your three baddest Ma'Afalas in the interior o-line, and just let them maul away at the opposing DT's. Colon and Kemoeatu are the two guys that have the nastiest attitudes among our o-lineman, and Hartwig simply has to have more of an edge to his game than Mahan had. Smith-Colon-Hartwig-Kemoeatu-Starks.

You have experience backing up inside with Simmons and Mahan, plus the young Stapleton in reserve as well. Although the backup tackles Essex and Hills aren't tremendous, if Marvel or Max gets hurt, you could always move Colon back to tackle if you needed to, and inserting Simmons back into the starting lineup at guard (making last year's right side of the line...RG Simmons and RT Colon...our worst case scenario in the event of a major injury to one of our tackles).

You'd have 10 o-lineman on your roster, but 2 of them probably wouldn't be active on gameday (likely the youngest guys...Hills and Stapleton). You would keep Simmons active always as your top backup option (former starter) and then keep Essex and Mahan active because of the versatility at multiple positions (tackle and guard for Trai and center and guard for Sean).

fordfixer
08-02-2008, 05:37 PM
Mabye Casey hampton could play running back, that way there would be a big body for Ben to hide behind in case someone does get past the o-line :lol:

Ozey74
08-02-2008, 05:45 PM
Mabye Casey hampton could play running back, that way there would be a big body for Ben to hide behind in case someone does get past the o-line :lol:


Now this is a good idea. Kinda a la Fridge Perry circa 85' Bears!!