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View Full Version : Starks At LT The Right Fit


HometownGal
12-29-2007, 07:51 AM
Good read on Max. I have seen some nice improvement from Max at LT over the last couple of games and am hoping it continues. It seems Max took off some weight, too, which I'm sure has factored into his mobility issues earlier in the season :thumbsup:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07363/845286-66.stm

Left tackle is just right fit this time for Starks

Saturday, December 29, 2007
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Max Starks is a natural left-hander who mostly played left tackle at the University of Florida, where his nickname was the "Undertaker" because of his family's mortuary business. It wasn't necessarily because Starks, who is 6 feet 8, planted opponents in the ground.

But there was little evidence of any of that during the preseason when Starks, a two-year starter at right tackle, was tried at left tackle as a potential backup for Marvel Smith. Starks looked uneasy and unsure at the position, giving up way too many sacks and feeling like he wanted to crawl in a hole.

"I didn't get a chance to practice at the position in the preseason," Starks said. "They said, 'Go play in the game,' and I was like ... uhhhh, OK."

Four months later, Starks is back at left tackle, getting ready to start his fourth game tomorrow in the regular-season finale against the Baltimore Ravens (4-11) at M&T Bank Stadium tomorrow. He will remain the starter, too, at least for the wild-card round of the playoffs and maybe longer, should the Steelers (10-5) advance.

Surprisingly, and perhaps amazingly, there has been no resemblance to the player who struggled at that position in the preseason. Starks has played so well that the back injury to Smith, along with the perceived dropoff in performance at left tackle, has been minimized, if not eliminated.

"He's picked up right where Marvel has left off," said Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, who plays next to Starks on the offensive line. "There has been no real drop in play, which is what you need from your sixth or seventh guy on the offensive line because [injuries are] going to happen. You got to keep on moving."

And the Steelers will have to keep on moving without Smith, a seven-year starter who had microscopic back surgery Thursday morning and might not play again this season. The surgery was performed by team neurosurgeon Dr. Joe Maroon.

Smith was already scheduled to sit out against the Ravens, even before his surgery. But he will not play in a wild-card playoff game next weekend at Heinz Field and won't return, in a best-case scenario, unless the Steelers advance to at least the second round.

That has put Starks back at left tackle, the position that is considered the most important on the offensive line because it protects the blind side of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"There's definitely a certain level of comfort playing the left side and being left-handed," said Smith, a third-round draft choice in 2004. "But there are a lot of left tackles in this league who aren't left-handed. For me, I feel a certain level of comfort going over there and being left-handed."

Smith missed back-to-back games earlier this season against the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals because of a disk problem in his back. He returned for the 34-13 loss in New England and started the following week against Jacksonville.

But Smith allowed four sacks against the Jaguars, an abnormal total for a player who is considered the team's best pass protector. Coach Mike Tomlin said Smith was having back problems again, and this time the problem was even more extreme.

The pain was running down his leg, making it difficult for Smith to plant or push off. He was replaced by Starks for the last series against the Jaguars, and may not play again this season.

Starks has helped ease the loss, something not many thought possible when they saw him perform at left tackle in the preseason.

"You know, things are kind of flying around in training camp," Faneca said. "You're learning plays, you're adding plays, he's bouncing around from practice to practice, he's a left tackle, he's a right tackle, some practices he's both. You kind of lose that comfort value."

But that all changed in the regular season, beginning when Starks had to replace Smith as the starter against in a Nov. 26 game against the Miami Dolphins. Starks played well in his first outing, stuffing defensive end Jason Taylor, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, and holding him without a sack with the help of a sloppy field.

The following week, he was singled out by coach Mike Tomlin for the way he played against the Bengals' best defensive lineman, Justin Smith. Tomlin singled out Starks again this week for the way he played in the 41-24 victory against the Rams.

"Max is a professional," Tomlin said. "He executes some good sound technique. He's lighter than he was in the preseason. I am sure that is factor with agility and mobility. I appreciate Max's efforts. He is always ready to step up and deliver for his team."

Atlanta Dan
12-29-2007, 07:54 AM
I do not know if Starks is the right fit so much as the only fit = you work with what you have, not with what you want

Assuming Starks does not do a face plant for the rest of the season, his recent play presumably raises his price beyond what the Steelers will pay

RJC
12-29-2007, 08:54 AM
If he finishes the season strong, there is an outside chance that the front office cuts Marvel, and his ailing back, to resign Starks. He's bigger, stronger, healthier, and younger. If LT is he natural position, he needs to be played there. Marvel just may have played his last game as a Steeler.....

Edman
12-29-2007, 08:59 AM
Which begs the question, why wasn't Starks tried out at LT earlier?

Atlanta Dan
12-29-2007, 09:17 AM
Which begs the question, why wasn't Starks tried out at LT earlier?

Marvel Smith was drafted in 2000 and usually has played well - Starks was drafted to be a starter and LT was filled. As the P-G article stated, Starks was tried out as a backup LT in 2007 preseason games (although he claims he never practiced at the position) and was a disaster

Smith's back problems are a definite concern, but I do not think plugging in Starks at LT in 2008 is the answer - a bad OL situation keeps getting worse - at this point the entire left side of the line (Mahan, Faneca, Smith) may be gone for 2008.

OneForTheToe
12-29-2007, 11:49 AM
Marvel Smith was drafted in 2000 and usually has played well - Starks was drafted to be a starter and LT was filled. As the P-G article stated, Starks was tried out as a backup LT in 2007 preseason games (although he claims he never practiced at the position) and was a disaster

Smith's back problems are a definite concern, but I do not think plugging in Starks at LT in 2008 is the answer - a bad OL situation keeps getting worse - at this point the entire left side of the line (Mahan, Faneca, Smith) may be gone for 2008.

I agree ...... I am not sure he is worth breaking the bank for unless this is a career ender for Smith. Now if Starks is willing to sign for a couple hundred "sawbucks.":wink02:

However, you have to figure that Pittsburgh West is interested in Starks. This might be a case of rebuilding this O'line from scratch with the exception of Simmons.

19ward86
12-29-2007, 01:20 PM
i have always been pro-starks but i want to see him at LG next year, just to see what he can do. look at him 6ft 7in 330lbs, as slower than big snack, sounds like the qualities of a guard.

RJC
12-29-2007, 01:29 PM
Next year the OL should look like this.
LT/Starks: Cut Marvel, his injury is most likely chronic. He's on the wrong side of the 30. Starks is bigger, stronger, and younger.

LG/Kemoeatu:Faneca walks. They ain't resigning him. Kemo brings some much needed attitude to an already docile group.

C/Simmons: Kendall slides to the left. and takes over for a horrendous Mahan. His athleticism allows us to pull in either direction.

RG/Colon: I like Colon's physical style. However, he has bad feet, and problems playing in space. Put him on a phonebooth, and let him be the brawler he wants to be.

RT/1st Rd Draftee: Draft USC's Sam Baker. Comes from a top program, and has a history of good production.

Mahan becomes the #1 backup at LG, C, & RG.

Hopefully Essex gets the axe. He's sucked since the day he was drafted. He's the reason as to why we should have kept Jason Cappizzi as a developmental project. We'll need to add another OG & C whether by draft of Free Agency....

RJC
12-29-2007, 01:32 PM
i have always been pro-starks but i want to see him at LG next year, just to see what he can do. look at him 6ft 7in 330lbs, as slower than big snack, sounds like the qualities of a guard.

He's listed at 6'8". You want a 6'8" OG? You know what that would do for throwing lanes? Visibilty beyond the LOS? He's a OT. Whether that be LT or RT, he's a OT...

Bill
12-29-2007, 05:17 PM
He may be showing improvement, but I think opponents are putting way too much pressure on Big Ben. I think the entire line is at fault and I worry that Big Ben will get hurt if this keeps up.

paw-n-maul-u
12-29-2007, 05:24 PM
He's listed at 6'8". You want a 6'8" OG? You know what that would do for throwing lanes? Visibilty beyond the LOS? He's a OT. Whether that be LT or RT, he's a OT...

Ok, well tony romo is shorter than Big Ben, Leonard davis is JUST AS, if not bigger than max starks, and he went from outcast in ARIZONA at LT, to probowler in Dallas at G. Why is that? because he is SLOW.

Put starks in at guard and maybe you have something? I don't know, but I am willing to do any and everything to not have Mahan on the field... EVER.

paw-n-maul-u
12-29-2007, 05:30 PM
not to mention what we would be paying Mahan to ride the bench.

The man just sucks, plain in simple. he might have been able to handle some of the ***** NFC DT's, but against the likes of wilfork, J. Williams, henderson, stroud, Ngata, the big boys of the AFC, he looks like a little punk.

CUT HIM ALREADY. our offense is no longer a push the pile offense, we dont have that kind of running game, we have a MUST PROTECT OUR FRANCHISE QB offense.

I'm all for using a high draft pick on a franchise LT or RT, and honestly, I think we need to drop every single player on the line and start them over in different spots (i.e. colon to guard, starks to maybe try at guard, or keep him at LT, Mahan to furnace)

but i think the rooneys need to stop *****footing around either, we're losing Faneca, and with M. Smiths salary, I don't see how we CANT cut him given how poorly he played. We need to go out and spend some money to protect ben. in FA.

RJC
12-29-2007, 05:31 PM
1st off Davis isn't a centimeter over 6'5". 2nd, it has nothing to do with speed. It has to do with foot dexterity and the ability to play in space. When was the last time you saw a OL running a 40 yard dash? You don't. Know why? It's useless. It's irrelevant. Davis made the move to guard because he had weight issues, and bad feet. Starks is auditioning right now for his next pay day. Whether that be with us or someone else, he's gonna get paid....

paw-n-maul-u
12-29-2007, 05:54 PM
alright, Davis isn't s Centi. over 6'5, he's two and a half almost, actually.

ESPN says Davis is 6'6 366 ... and lists Romo at 6'2 ... thats a four inch difference.

ESPN says Starks is 6'8 333 ... and lists Roethlisberger at 6'5 ... thats a three inch difference

(for the record, CBS, NFL, and Fox all have pretty much the exact same metrics ... (give or take a few in the lb.'s category))

4>3 ... so I just won't even argue that point any more. Not to mention, Like Romo, ben makes a lot of his best plays outside the pocket on the move, I hardly think the addition of a couple inches to a Guard is going to make Big Ben's stats plummet.

And the last time I saw an OL run the 40 yard dash was ... probably last NFL combine, or wait, I just youtubed an offensive lineman running a 40, so i guess it was about a minute ago.

Speed (maybe a 40 time indication) in the NFL is useless and irrelevant for offensive lineman? false, Davis was moved inside because he was too slow to play OT, his massive wingspan couldn't keep up with his bumbling feet, (sure, fine, if you want to technically term it "foot dexterity" ... I prefer to call it, SLOW) ...

****and no this doesn't mean speed is everything, but he sure does got some SLOW feet. and no this doesnt mean to draft the fastest LT on the board. (but, if it means anything, joe thomas was the fastest of all lineman drafted on the first day of the NFL draft)

Max Starks, well he's pretty slow too, I don't know if this three or four game streak he's got goin on is any indication that maybe, INDEED, he is better at his natural LT position, but i feel that ultimately he could probably play a better Guard, than OT, in the NFL.

Rhee Rhee
12-29-2007, 09:26 PM
I do not know if Starks is the right fit so much as the only fit = you work with what you have, not with what you want

Assuming Starks does not do a face plant for the rest of the season, his recent play presumably raises his price beyond what the Steelers will pay

well put... very well said

RJC
12-29-2007, 10:37 PM
alright, Davis isn't s Centi. over 6'5, he's two and a half almost, actually.

ESPN says Davis is 6'6 366 ... and lists Romo at 6'2 ... thats a four inch difference.

ESPN says Starks is 6'8 333 ... and lists Roethlisberger at 6'5 ... thats a three inch difference

(for the record, CBS, NFL, and Fox all have pretty much the exact same metrics ... (give or take a few in the lb.'s category))

4>3 ... so I just won't even argue that point any more. Not to mention, Like Romo, ben makes a lot of his best plays outside the pocket on the move, I hardly think the addition of a couple inches to a Guard is going to make Big Ben's stats plummet.

And the last time I saw an OL run the 40 yard dash was ... probably last NFL combine, or wait, I just youtubed an offensive lineman running a 40, so i guess it was about a minute ago.

Speed (maybe a 40 time indication) in the NFL is useless and irrelevant for offensive lineman? false, Davis was moved inside because he was too slow to play OT, his massive wingspan couldn't keep up with his bumbling feet, (sure, fine, if you want to technically term it "foot dexterity" ... I prefer to call it, SLOW) ...

****and no this doesn't mean speed is everything, but he sure does got some SLOW feet. and no this doesnt mean to draft the fastest LT on the board. (but, if it means anything, joe thomas was the fastest of all lineman drafted on the first day of the NFL draft)

Max Starks, well he's pretty slow too, I don't know if this three or four game streak he's got goin on is any indication that maybe, INDEED, he is better at his natural LT position, but i feel that ultimately he could probably play a better Guard, than OT, in the NFL.


OK, are you done yaking? 40 speed has nothing to do with O-Line play. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. If your O-Line's speed comes into play, it's bad, as they're most likley chasing down a turnover. At the end of the day, Starks will be a OT. He has a 0% chance at becoming a OG. Not 10%, not 5 %, not even 3%. MAX STARKS HAS 0% CHANCE TO BECOME A OG FOR THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS. Simple enough?

Galax Steeler
12-30-2007, 06:53 AM
Next year the OL should look like this.
LT/Starks: Cut Marvel, his injury is most likely chronic. He's on the wrong side of the 30. Starks is bigger, stronger, and younger.

LG/Kemoeatu:Faneca walks. They ain't resigning him. Kemo brings some much needed attitude to an already docile group.

C/Simmons: Kendall slides to the left. and takes over for a horrendous Mahan. His athleticism allows us to pull in either direction.

RG/Colon: I like Colon's physical style. However, he has bad feet, and problems playing in space. Put him on a phonebooth, and let him be the brawler he wants to be.

RT/1st Rd Draftee: Draft USC's Sam Baker. Comes from a top program, and has a history of good production.

Mahan becomes the #1 backup at LG, C, & RG.

Hopefully Essex gets the axe. He's sucked since the day he was drafted. He's the reason as to why we should have kept Jason Cappizzi as a developmental project. We'll need to add another OG & C whether by draft of Free Agency....

I like the sam baker pick also.