After a season that wasnâ€™t as successful as we like in Pittsburgh, the Steelers can look back and reflect on their offense and say it was pretty solid.Â This season, now that there is one, the Steelers should expect to have Ben for the entire time and the offense will improve even more.
Last season the Steelers were 12th in the NFL in points per game, obviously a big factor was not having Ben for the first four games, though the Steelers still played well despite not having him. The offense scored a total of 375 points with 23.4 points per game average.Â The Steelers were 14th in the NFL in yards per game with a large portion of those yards attributed the long play beast, Mike Wallace, who averaged 21 yards per catch last season.
However we canâ€™t forget workhorse Rashard Mendenhall. While he may not write the most eloquent tweets, he was 7th in the NFL in rushing yards,Â 3rd in touchdowns and 4th in carries.Â Â With Ben under center for the entire season this year, from a playmaker standpoint, the Steelers look really good.
The weak spot, if there is one, continues to be the offensive line.Â Eighth in the NFL in sacks and second in the AFC is just unforgivable, and most of those, well thatâ€™s the big boys up front not doing their job. Now, I donâ€™t want to seem like Iâ€™m bashing the guys up front, but fourth in the AFC in quarterback hits should not be acceptable for any team that should be a Super Bowl contender every year. The Steelers were 3rd in the AFC and 6th in the NFL in rushes for negative yards, come on guys!
There is one bright spot in that, the only teams in the AFC with more rushes for negative yards were division rivals Ravens and Bengals.Â The Steelers offensive line is the 6th least experienced line in the AFC, so what better way to help the young guys by resigning veteran OT, Willie Colon, now that the lockout is over.Â One definite bright spot on the Steelers o-line was all-pro second team, and pro bowl selected rookie Maurkice Pouncey.Â Another hopeful bright spot will be our second round draft pick Marcus Gilbert out of University of Florida (same college as Pouncey).Â The 6â€™6â€ 330lb beast can play either the left or right tackle position.Â Sixth round draft pick Keith Williams, named second team All-Big 12 by Rivals.com will also add depth at the guard position, hopefully.
In the meantime, how can the Steelers shore up the line? Well, now that the lockout is over, they can use free agency to add a couple veterans to the line.Â After doing some research and looking at free agent lists, I have a list of possible offensive free agent targets.
- Derrick Dockery, former Redskins guard- while he has had some trouble staying healthy, he could be an asset in the run block game.
- Â Next possible target is OT Jammal Brown.Â He had four good seasons in New Orleans, and had another decent season last year playing out of position at RT for the Redskins.
- Not a Raven! Yes a Raven folks, itâ€™s Tackle Jared Gaither, if he was healthy, he would be arguably the best o-lineman in this free agent class.Â If signed he would provide a much needed upgrade at tackle where weâ€™re far from strong.Â The combination of Max Starks and Willie Colon allowed a combined 19 sacks last season.
- Now we have Guard Justin Blalock from Atlanta.Â If he leaves Atlanta he would provide a more skilled and less penalized guard than Chris Kemoeatu.Â Kemoeatu was a reason that the Steelersâ€™ o-line had the most penalties in the NFL last season (46, 10 by Kemoeatu).
- My last target, if he is not resigned by the Pats is OL Matt Light.Â He has been a core lineman for one of the best o-lines in football.Â He would be a solid improvement.
We all know the Steelers have the offensive playmaker, to make it to the playoffs again.Â But the playoffs are not enough.Â Our main weakness is the o-line.Â Improve the o-line and I cannot see how the Steelers arenâ€™t a Super Bowl favorite.Â The stronger the o-line, the better the passing game is, and the better the running game.
This post was written by Brian Jacobs, who will be a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts studying sports marketing – a Steelers fan, Jacobs grew up in Silver Spring, MD and is an avid golfer while saving his real skills for the ski slopes. He’s also an accomplished smart ass and Steelergurl and Media Frenzy summer intern.
These are HIS views and not necessarily those of Steelergurl Â SG would have made more mention of Isaac Redman as a great running back and fan favorite. Â As well as referring to Hines Ward at least once as the “baby daddy” err I mean, great wideout he is.