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Thread: The O-Line ... changes in store

  1. #1
    Hall of Famer SteelCrazy's Avatar
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    The O-Line ... changes in store

    By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


    The Steelers offensive line will have a different look in 2013, not just in personnel but also in execution.

    At least, that is the intent of offensive coordinator Todd Haley and the team's new offensive line coach, Jack Bicknell Jr.

    And for good reason.

    If the Steelers are interested in running the ball more effectively -- something that didn't happen in 2012 -- they might have to do more than change the people who are blocking up front. They might have to change how they are blocking, too.

    And that also would mean finding the right type of running back to fit the schemes that are being employed.

    Despite a change in roster makeup to emphasize running the ball better, the Steelers went the other way last season, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry on the ground after averaging 4.4 yards per pop with basically the same personnel in 2011.

    Offensive lines are sometimes graded on the protection they afford their quarterback, and, at times, that was much better in 2012 than it has been, especially in two of the games when Charlie Batch had to replace Ben Roethlisberger.

    But the true measure of how a line performs is often determined by how effectively a team runs the ball. And that is something the Steelers did not do very well in 2012, other than a three-game span in the middle of the season when they had three consecutive games with a 100-yard rusher -- something the team had not done in five years.

    Haley and Bicknell would like to change that. And they will start with injecting more youth, more athleticism and less girth in the offensive line.

    When Haley was the head coach in Kansas City, the Chiefs had the league's No. 1 rushing attack with an offensive line that averaged less than 300 pounds. And, in an interview last week on the Steelers website, Bicknell said he doesn't like offensive linemen "who get huge and then they can't bend and move." He said he wants players who can move, run and have the quickness off the ball "to get into people."

    That's one of the reasons the Steelers are expected to part ways with Max Starks, who was arguably the team's best lineman in 2012 and the only one to play every snap. Tackles are responsible for allowing running backs to get to the edge and bounce outside, and how many times did you see a Steelers running back do that last season?

    That is also not a good fit for guard Willie Colon, who was too thick to move at the team's top pulling spot. Colon, though, is not expected back because of his repeated injury problems.

    Their expected departure will pave the way for the Steelers to start an offensive line that could have four, and possibly five, starters under the age of 26.

    Marcus Gilbert, who missed 12 games last season with an ankle ligament tear, will likely replace Starks at left tackle. He will be 25 on Friday. Mike Adams, last year's No. 2 pick who missed the final five games with an ankle injury, is expected to start at right tackle. The Steelers do not want to use him at left tackle because Adams has had problems in pass protection -- something the Steelers cannot afford on Roethlisberger's blind side. Adams, though, is a very good run blocker and was the starter at right tackle when the Steelers had three consecutive 100-yard rushers. He is 22.

    The team is set with Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, 23, and right guard David DeCastro, 23, who missed most of the 2012 season with a knee injury. Pouncey (6-4, 304) and DeCastro (6-5, 316) epitomize the long, lean body type the Steelers seek to employ on the offensive line.

    The only question is at left guard, where 330-pound Ramon Foster finished the season as the starter.

    Foster, though, does not run very well and is not an ideal fit for the team's primary pulling position. Plus, like Starks, he is an unrestricted free agent and might not be re-signed. That could pave the way for tackle Kelvin Beachum, last year's seventh-round pick, to be moved there.

    In a season of injuries to many of their draft choices, Beachum was one of the team's most pleasant surprises. Not only did he impress the coaches with his ability to pass protect, he also showed an ability to get out of the edge and run block -- something the coaches want to see more of in 2013.

    Beachum, 23, fits in perfectly with the team's desire to have lighter, more agile offensive lineman, and he could be moved to guard and given a chance to play there.

    Doug Legurksy, who has started 17 games in his four-year career, would be re-signed to be the backup at center and guard. Legursky is also an unrestricted free agent.

    But it might not just be a change in personnel that will affect the look of the offensive line.

    The Steelers have been a man-blocking team almost exclusively since Chuck Noll ran the tackle-trap play in the 1970s. But Noll did that with smaller, quicker linemen who could move off the ball and use their quickness to execute blocks.

    Today, most of the top running teams in the NFL use a zone-blocking scheme that requires the offensive lineman to block an area, not a specific man. Among them are Kansas City, Washington, Denver and Houston.

    Bicknell used a zone-blocking scheme last season with the Chiefs, who finished fifth in the league in rushing after leading the NFL in 2011. Bicknell said the Chiefs used a zone-blocking scheme because they had a running back, Jamaal Charles, who liked to run outside-zone plays.

    If the Steelers change to a zone-blocking scheme, then it will be imperative to find the type of running back who is patient, stretches the play and has good cutback instincts.

    Right now, the Steelers' top running backs, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, are physical backs who run inside and are more tailored to gap runs in a man-blocking scheme. Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Rainey are examples of running backs who can threaten the edge and are more suited to zone-blocking schemes. But Rainey is already gone and Mendenhall is expected to follow.

    That will either force the Steelers to find a back to fit a zone-scheme style or continue with a man-blocking attack that suits Redman and Dwyer.

    It will all be part of the change that is due to come on the offensive line.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/...#ixzz2KVqX6Z7A

  2. #2
    Legend RuthlessBurgher's Avatar
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    Sure, Max weighs more than Gilbert, because Max is 2-3 inches taller than Gilbert. But Gilbert is "fatter" than Max. Seems to me that Beachum, Pouncey, DeCastro, and Adams all fit the body style that they are looking for, but Gilbert does not. If Gilbert trims down a bit, perhaps he wouldn't hurt his fellow o-linemen so much when he falls on them.

    In my first mock of the year, I included J.C. Tretter from my alma mater Cornell as a later round pick. If Beachum starts, then Tretter could fill that Trai-Essex-like role that we envisioned for Beachum (he's smart, versatile, and fits the more trim, athletic OL body style instead of the massive road grader guards that we've had in the past).

    I liked Larry Warford from Kentucky as a day two target, but he's one of those big fellas that we may now like to avoid. The team may not fret if Warmack is off the board...they may prefer someone like UNC's Cooper instead (who seems to be the forgotten 1st round guard prospect). At tackle, Joeckel and Fisher should be long gone by the time we pick, but OU's Lane Johnson seems to fit this new scheme much better than Gilbert.

    I've noted previously that I prefer Gio Bernard to Eddie Lacy, and if we are going to a K.C./Houston/Washington/Denver style zone blocking scheme that requires a one-cut runner, then Bernard is the guy that we'd take if he were available in round 2 over Lacy, who is more the style of Steeler backs past.
    Last edited by RuthlessBurgher; 02-10-2013 at 12:54 PM.

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    When Haley was the head coach in Kansas City, the Chiefs had the league's No. 1 rushing attack with an offensive line that averaged less than 300 pounds. And, in an interview last week on the Steelers website, Bicknell said he doesn't like offensive linemen "who get huge and then they can't bend and move." He said he wants players who can move, run and have the quickness off the ball "to get into people."
    I have been saying this for years. Why didn't the freaking Steelers realize this sooner?

  4. #4
    Pro Bowler D Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lloydroid View Post
    I have been saying this for years. Why didn't the freaking Steelers realize this sooner?
    Because you're too smart. Those numbskulls who know next to nothing about football can't keep up with you.

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    Pro Bowler supersteeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lloydroid View Post
    I have been saying this for years. Why didn't the freaking Steelers realize this sooner?
    K.C. and Haley had Jamaal Charles at RB, makes a big difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by D Rock View Post
    Because you're too smart. Those numbskulls who know next to nothing about football can't keep up with you.

    We're not worthy!

    We're not worthy!!
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    Hall of Famer DukieBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Rock View Post
    Because you're too smart. Those numbskulls who know next to nothing about football can't keep up with you.
    Maybe people ought to start listening to him, resist the Psychogenetic Fallacy. What is wrong with those of unlike minds?



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  8. #8
    Hall of Famer ikestops85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lloydroid View Post
    I have been saying this for years. Why didn't the freaking Steelers realize this sooner?
    Uh, maybe because they were trying to deal with the massive defensive linemen in our division. I really thought they tried to go to the zone blocking scheme before which royally ticked off Faneca. Isn't that when he tried to start a mutiny on the offensive line because his buddy, Grimm, wasn't given the head coaching job and they were changing the blocking scheme?
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Rock View Post
    Because you're too smart. Those numbskulls who know next to nothing about football can't keep up with you.
    Well...yea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ikestops85 View Post
    Uh, maybe because they were trying to deal with the massive defensive linemen in our division. I really thought they tried to go to the zone blocking scheme before which royally ticked off Faneca. Isn't that when he tried to start a mutiny on the offensive line because his buddy, Grimm, wasn't given the head coaching job and they were changing the blocking scheme?
    Faneca was a prima dona douche who thought he was special and should get whatever he wanted including his motorcycle riding buddy to be the Head Coach.
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