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83-Steelers-43
08-19-2007, 10:59 PM
Steelers offensive line still in flux
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, August 19, 2007

The players are near-unanimous in their desire for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to settle on the starting five along the offensive line.

Of course, democracy has never flourished among football teams, and Tomlin has the only vote that counts.

So far, he's been tougher to budge than Casey Hampton on his stance that he's in no hurry to make a decision on who starts at center and right tackle.

He reiterated it after the Steelers' 12-10 win over the Washington Redskins on Saturday night, even though the offensive line turned in an uneven performance. That raised the question of how beneficial it would be for Tomlin to pick the five that must effectively function as one when they are on the field.

"They're going to be judged by their cumulative body of work, so we'll continue to watch," Tomlin said.

Tomlin only has two more preseason games in which to evaluate his players -- in this case, Chukky Okobi and Sean Mahan at center and Max Starks and Willie Colon at right tackle.

"Of course, I'd like to see (a decision made soon)," said Starks, who's trying to hold off Colon, "but you have to be an obedient player and wait for them to make their decision."

What has complicated the decision-making process is the shuffling the Steelers have done along the offensive line. Some of that has been a product of necessity.

Mahan didn't play in the first preseason game because of an excused absence, and Okobi has missed the past two games because of a rib injury. Starting left tackle Marvel Smith, meanwhile, didn't play Saturday night because of back spasms.

Trai Essex started in his place, and the Steelers had tried Starks at left tackle the previous two games, though he played exclusively at right tackle against the Redskins.

It's debatable whether injuries and experimentation have hindered the emergence of five clear-cut starters up front.

But it was clear Saturday that offensive line remains a work in progress.

The Steelers averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and couldn't get into the end zone, despite driving inside Washington's 5-yard line three times.

"Obviously, there have been some good things and a lot of things we need to work on," said Mahan, the team's only significant free-agent signing during the offseason. "It will be nice when we can kind of solidify the units.

"The more situations you see, the better. So, I'm sure it's something where everyone wants to see happen pretty quickly.

"You need to know what the guy next to you is doing and how he approaches it and how he blocks. There's a lot of communication, and when the bullets are flying, you've got to be able to communicate in a matter of seconds."

Mahan and Colon have started the past two games, but Tomlin doesn't appear ready to anoint them as first stringers -- or go with Okobi and Starks, the players who are still listed first on the depth chart at their respective positions.

All he says now is to stay tuned.

"I think we're going to have cohesion even if we do allow this thing to play out," Tomlin said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_523030.html

TackleMeBen
08-19-2007, 11:05 PM
how long will it take to play out? i mean the season is just around the corner???? i dont care who is on the oline as long as they can block and protect ben and make holes for willie to run thru.

PalmerSteel
08-20-2007, 01:09 AM
as pathetic as the line looked yesterday, they better get it turned around SOON!

Preacher
08-20-2007, 01:42 AM
I really would like for them to get a couple games together as one unit.

Hopefully we will see that starting in what would really be the third preseason game.

Steeldude
08-20-2007, 02:54 AM
when you have so many poor offensive lineman it's hard to pick the starters. the steelers should have addressed this problem 5 years ago.

Galax Steeler
08-20-2007, 03:48 AM
I think the offensive line will be our week spot this year.

Preacher
08-20-2007, 05:23 AM
I really think all this "lets try this, let's try that" crap with the O line has hurt and is going to hurt into the season . An O line is built on consistancy, trust and understanding the guy next to you. We havn't given these guys time to do that, I'm afraid it will be a weakness all season and our first two picks next year will be O line men. Anyone know who's good coming out next year???

The O line was weak coming into the season...

So we can't really blame Tomlin for that. What I think is being done, is finding out if there is an injury, who can best play where. You know what, I prefer that done in the preseason then in game 14 when we are 1 game in front of the Ravens for AFC champs.

revefsreleets
08-20-2007, 04:00 PM
I'm hoping this is some kind of weird "break them down and build them back up" philosophy. I also hope it's over.

Jman
08-20-2007, 04:06 PM
The O line was weak coming into the season...

So we can't really blame Tomlin for that. What I think is being done, is finding out if there is an injury, who can best play where. You know what, I prefer that done in the preseason then in game 14 when we are 1 game in front of the Ravens for AFC champs.

:iagree:

This is what Preseason is about; Seeing what works and seeing what doesn't work. Let's not forget that the Saints, Redskins, and Packers employ a 4-3 defense. We'll also be seeing 4-3 throughout the preseason. If Tomlin needs the time to see who the best combination is, I'm ok with that. It seems right now that the 3-4 teams have some of the toughest defenses, so I am very o-k with Tomlin figuring out the best protection. In this case, when that 3-4 team tries to come off the corner, we see a pocket, not a sack.

:coffee:

mental.apparition
08-20-2007, 04:50 PM
The O line was weak coming into the season...

So we can't really blame Tomlin for that. What I think is being done, is finding out if there is an injury, who can best play where. You know what, I prefer that done in the preseason then in game 14 when we are 1 game in front of the Ravens for AFC champs.
The only part missing from the SB Champ O line is Hartings. While Jeff was a great Steelers center, his loss does not make the overall grade "weak".

In fact the interior of the line hasn't been bad thus far in the pre season. Granted the tackle shuffle has been uncomfortable to watch as a fan, but throw the 2006 season out the window.

I think Tomlin will decide his starters this week and we'll see them out there next weekend.

Which ever way it goes, shouldn't we wait until Tomlin has a head coaching record before we start the mock drafts for '08?

Seriously. It's pre season for a new head coach. The sky isn't falling yet.

mental.apparition
08-20-2007, 10:34 PM
Tomlin names starters according to Wexell.

Smith, Faneca, Mahan, Simmons, Colon

The Duke
08-20-2007, 10:36 PM
Tomlin names starters according to Wexell.

Smith, Faneca, Mahan, Simmons, Colon

If this is true, then I'm happy it is Colon

Livinginthe past
08-20-2007, 11:32 PM
Would that mean Okobi and Starks being cut?

Crushzilla
08-20-2007, 11:40 PM
Would that mean Okobi and Starks being cut?

It would be too hard to cut Starks...

He has proved to be quite elusive... especially when being rushed...

Preacher
08-20-2007, 11:43 PM
The only part missing from the SB Champ O line is Hartings. While Jeff was a great Steelers center, his loss does not make the overall grade "weak".

In fact the interior of the line hasn't been bad thus far in the pre season. Granted the tackle shuffle has been uncomfortable to watch as a fan, but throw the 2006 season out the window.

I think Tomlin will decide his starters this week and we'll see them out there next weekend.

Which ever way it goes, shouldn't we wait until Tomlin has a head coaching record before we start the mock drafts for '08?

Seriously. It's pre season for a new head coach. The sky isn't falling yet.

Two things. 1. It wasn't the middle of the line that was weak.. it was the right side that was weak. The RG and RT were HORRIBLE last year. So yes, it was a WEAK line coming into the year. Now, Simmons seems to be doing much better, which just leaves Starks. If Colon takes care of Starks, I am comfortable with the line, provided that Mahan steps up... or Okobi. However, I am NOT comfortable with our back ups. I was hoping for Kemo to step up, but have been disappointed.

However, we ABSOLUTELY need help on the Oline... at least in the backups. Our WR's seem to be coming along. Our RB's seems decent enough. So once again, we are looking at Oline. Even if we go 16-0 and take the SB with 40 points to spare... We STILL need depth at the O-line. Fanaca is gone, and we have NO replacement after this year.

Preacher
08-20-2007, 11:44 PM
It would be too hard to cut Starks...

He has proved to be quite elusive... especially when being rushed...


:sofunny:

OneForTheToe
08-21-2007, 12:00 AM
I could see Okobi being cut but not Starks. I've lost faith in Stark's ability to become a above average OT, but he would still be the best backup OT they had on the roster. I also think there is a chance they might keep both Okobi and Mahan, since neither of them have really outshown the other to this point.

Here is what I am thinking now for the O'line:

Starters: Smith, Faneca, Mahan, Simmons, Colon

4 backups: Starks, Kemo, Essex ( or maybe Capizzi instead), and Okobi.

Okobi might be expensive but Mahan doesn't seem to have really out played him by much. If they keep both Okobi and Mahan they would maintain the abiltiy to move Mahan to guard if something happened to Faneca. I'm rooting for Capizzi but he might be headed to the practice squad. I know that leaves out Marvin Phillip, but i really havn't heard much positive about him.

Probably a few O'linemen put on ps.

mental.apparition
08-21-2007, 10:30 AM
Two things. 1. It wasn't the middle of the line that was weak.. it was the right side that was weak. The RG and RT were HORRIBLE last year. So yes, it was a WEAK line coming into the year. Now, Simmons seems to be doing much better, which just leaves Starks. If Colon takes care of Starks, I am comfortable with the line, provided that Mahan steps up... or Okobi. However, I am NOT comfortable with our back ups. I was hoping for Kemo to step up, but have been disappointed.

However, we ABSOLUTELY need help on the Oline... at least in the backups. Our WR's seem to be coming along. Our RB's seems decent enough. So once again, we are looking at Oline. Even if we go 16-0 and take the SB with 40 points to spare... We STILL need depth at the O-line. Fanaca is gone, and we have NO replacement after this year.
As long as you're preaching how about giving it straight? The ENTIRE offensive line stunk up the joint in 2006. Which is why I said throw it out. Neither Smith nor Faneca nor Hartings had good or great seasons. The entire unit got smacked around for entire games - JAX, SD, BAL1 & BAL2 come to mind immediately.

Alan Faneca should have declined that All Pro in shame. I believe most of his temper tantrum over the summer was due to the fact his weakness (pass blocking) is going to be exposed in the evolving Steelers offense. Faneca knows if he can't step up his game over his 2006 performance his is not getting anywhere near the top G money next year so he pressed for it this year.

Why even discuss next year? This is the NFL and this team will probably look a lot different by January and then you discuss next year.

As for depth this year the Steelers are likely to carry Kemo, Starks and Okobi. All three have started NFL games and provide levels of play near the starters ahead of them. Even Essex, as bad as he's looked in the pre season, gives the Steelers something to work with in case Marvel goes down for an extended time. Sure you've got to change the game plan somewhat and give Essex help on the corner with a TE or RB but the Steelers have also won with him starting at LT.

If you must look to the future, see Cappy and Cam stashed on the practice squad this year and developing for next. Hell, if Simmons can raise his game to expectations this year you might just see him re-signed next spring at a fair deal.

The Steelers have a bigger depth problem this year @ DL than OL.