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GBMelBlount
07-21-2008, 07:35 AM
Willie Colon may be the puzzle piece that makes the offensive line click

By James Pete | July 20th, 2008

The Pittsburgh Steelers arenít doing much talking about where Willie Colon will be playing this year. Colon started at right tackle last season, beating out previous starter Max Starks during training camp. He did an adequate job at right tackle, but many believe that Colonís best position may be at a guard slot. This year, he should get his chance.

Willie Colon is the incumbent starter at right tackle. The catch with Colon is that he isnít the kind of blocker that excels at sealing the edge. Heís a spot blocker who gets beat by quicker edge rushers that can blow past him. This isnít to say he gets beat by every edge rusher, but the best teams can find ways around Colon. This isnít to say that Max Starks is a better player than Colon. If that were the case, than Starks would have kept his starting job. Still, Starks has 6.9 million reasons to win the job at right tackle. Mike Tomlin will start the better player, but it may be that Tomlin moves Colon to a guard battle to give Starks and easier road to winning his old job back full-time. At 6′8″ and 340 lbs, Starks can make it extremely difficult for any edge rush. His only problem has always been motor. For now, Colon is still the incumbent, but it wonít take long in camp to see if Colon is being worked out anywhere else.

Where would that be?

The most obvious position change would be to give Colon an opportunity at Alan Fanecaís old job at left guard. Right now, the job appears to be going to Chris Kemoeatu. Many media outlets have it as nearly a done deal, which is interesting since camp hasnít started yet. Colon seems best suited to playing the guard position. When heís blocking in small spots, that is required from the guard spot, heís as good as there is, especially against the run. Heís not extremely mobile, which will hurt a bit in pulling situations, and pass blocking, but Kemo isnít nearly as mobile as Colon. The catch, for me, is that Colon can block better overall. Heís not the monster that the 6′3″, 345 lb Kemo is, but he understands blocking much better. Sean Mahan should also be in the mix here, which could make for an interesting battle, should Mike Tomlin and offensive line coach Larry Zierlein give Colon a chance at left guard.

The real battle might not be at left guard at all for Colon. Kendall Simmons really struggled last year at right guard, which was a huge disappointment for the Steelers after they re-signed him to a four-year extension worth nearly $24 million. The Simmons signing, that was as much a reaction to not being able to sign Alan Faneca than anything else, was a huge mistake, and Simmons seemed to prove that every Sunday by playing poorly for most of the season. He did play better as the season progressed, but the Steelers are thinking Colon might be the guy to either push Simmons, or take his place. Iíve already mentioned Colonís ability to block as a guard, and on the right side, he would be able to keep the same tendencies he had as a right tackle.

At the end of the day, Tomlin and Zierlein believe that they have all the parts to a good offensive line on their roster. It sounds ridiculous after the past two years of poor play and the loss of Alan Faneca, but there may be more to it than meets the eye. What this line has right now is versatility, and there is an underlying belief by the coaching staff that the pieces werenít all in the right place last year. As silly as it sounds, Alan Faneca leaving might be the catalyst to improved offensive line play.

Colon is at the center of this thinking. Many have always believed that Willie Colon is a better guard than a tackle. Should Colon win a job at right or left tackle, the puzzle pieces then start to fit from there. Imagine Colon beating out Kendall Simmons at right guard. Starks would take over at right tackle, and be playing for a new contract (more on this tomorrow). At center, Justin Hartwig would take over for Sean Mahan, who was overwhelmed by the job. Hartwig, up to now, hasnít been very good. Much of his lack of development has been injury issues. Thereís upside there that many havenít talked about. Sean Mahan is a better guard than a center, and could either push Kemo, or take his job. Combine that with Marvel Smith returning to his pro bowl ways, and you could have a line improvement.

Thereís also talk that Jason Capizzi is getting better, which would give even more malleability to the line.

The key to all of this is Willie Colon. Heís the first piece of the puzzle. If he can win a guard position, the puzzle may come together better than people expect.

http://mvn.com/nfl-steelers/2008/07/20/willie-colon-may-be-the-puzzle-piece-that-makes-the-offensive-line-click/

Lord Stiller
07-21-2008, 08:19 AM
I also think Colon would be a better guard but there is also Simmons and Kemo

I hope they figure it out

SteelMember
07-21-2008, 08:55 AM
Once camp is under way and players have shown their stuff, I hope the the coaches make their decisions and stick with them. Altering the lineup during the year, dicounting injuries, hasn't boad well for us in the past. The more time they spend together, the better they will be.

revefsreleets
07-21-2008, 09:53 AM
Yup, they need to stop with the musical chairs at OL and make some decisons early on in camp...let these guys gel as a unit. With another year of the new scheme under their belts, and some solidity at the C position, hopefully the OL becomes a strength not a liability.

GBMelBlount
07-21-2008, 10:23 AM
Quite honestly, I will be happy if they simply are not considered a liability....

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-21-2008, 01:32 PM
Colon is a guy that needs to be on the field. He's nasty, strong and plays with an intensity. Probably a better guard, but sadly he'll probably beat out the $7million dollar man at RT......because Starks has a laid back attitude.

lamberts-lost-tooth
07-21-2008, 01:54 PM
Alot of us have stated that the player on our roster that would most be able to take Faneca's place...would be Colon. However I wouldnt be surprised to see him moved to the Right Guard slot, and Starks becoming the LT....if only to justify the enormous amount of money we have thrown at him.

I am still torn about Left Guard....and wonder if a slower/stronger Kemo is better than a faster/weaker Mahan...I am not so naive as to think that just because Mahan didnt have the anchor to play center, he can not play guard...most of us know that those two positions are apples and oranges..especially in the AFC North with the monster NT's that Mahan DID have to take on at center..but WOULDNT have to do more than help with at guard.

In alot of the games last year I was dissapointed to see Faneca fail to provide the help to the center...especially in passing downs were you could see him drop his hips and turn a shoulder to the Center...leaving Mahan in a phonebooth with larger/stronger NT's that would simply overpower him.

Mahan would at least be able to pull....but Kemo is a beast and if we mutate our blocking schemes to fit his strengths, he is probably the better of the two.

Should be interesting!

Lord Stiller
07-21-2008, 02:09 PM
Alot of us have stated that the player on our roster that would most be able to take Faneca's place...would be Colon. However I wouldnt be surprised to see him moved to the Right Guard slot, and Starks becoming the LT....if only to justify the enormous amount of money we have thrown at him.

I am still torn about Left Guard....and wonder if a slower/stronger Kemo is better than a faster/weaker Mahan...I am not so naive as to think that just because Mahan didnt have the anchor to play center, he can not play guard...most of us know that those two positions are apples and oranges..especially in the AFC North with the monster NT's that Mahan DID have to take on at center..but WOULDNT have to do more than help with at guard.

In alot of the games last year I was dissapointed to see Faneca fail to provide the help to the center...especially in passing downs were you could see him drop his hips and turn a shoulder to the Center...leaving Mahan in a phonebooth with larger/stronger NT's that would simply overpower him.

Mahan would at least be able to pull....but Kemo is a beast and if we mutate our blocking schemes to fit his strengths, he is probably the better of the two.

Should be interesting!

dude you are all over the place

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-21-2008, 02:32 PM
Alot of us have stated that the player on our roster that would most be able to take Faneca's place...would be Colon. However I wouldnt be surprised to see him moved to the Right Guard slot, and Starks becoming the LT....if only to justify the enormous amount of money we have thrown at him.

I am still torn about Left Guard....and wonder if a slower/stronger Kemo is better than a faster/weaker Mahan...I am not so naive as to think that just because Mahan didnt have the anchor to play center, he can not play guard...most of us know that those two positions are apples and oranges..especially in the AFC North with the monster NT's that Mahan DID have to take on at center..but WOULDNT have to do more than help with at guard.

In alot of the games last year I was dissapointed to see Faneca fail to provide the help to the center...especially in passing downs were you could see him drop his hips and turn a shoulder to the Center...leaving Mahan in a phonebooth with larger/stronger NT's that would simply overpower him.

Mahan would at least be able to pull....but Kemo is a beast and if we mutate our blocking schemes to fit his strengths, he is probably the better of the two.

Should be interesting!

Colon will battle for the RT spot and at worst, be insurance if Kemo, Mahan or Simmons faulters at the OG spots.

I think Kemo will be fine. While not as quick as Faneca, he is very nimble for a 344lb guy and can be really effective on a short trap or zone block. He should win the LG spot

RG should be Simmons to lose, but you could always look at Mahan or Stapleton if its a real problem.

I think Colon will again beat out Starks for the RT spot and Starks will end up being the backup at LT and RT, while Hills will backup at RT. Capizzi or Parquet ends up on the PS and Essex is let go.

Starks was a waste of the $7mil IMO and I think the FO will try and compound that mistake by signing him long term. He's always been a guy that played under his ability/size and unfortunately I think the Steelers are still liking his ----"potential"

Here's a couple notes from Starks his draft year in 2004 and after his senior bowl workout.


. Max Starks, Florida, second round -- Not as physically dominant as his 6-7, 344-pound frame would imply, but Starks is light on his feet and versatile enough to play both guard and tackle. -Mel Kiper

Florida OT Max Starks, who is huge, but really didn't use his size to advantage or move very well.--ESPN reporter Jamie Moore on Sr. Bowl Week 2004

I dont think Colon is the key to the line, but a solid guy that should be retained longer term. Starks and his contract are holding the team back IMO

lamberts-lost-tooth
07-21-2008, 03:08 PM
dude you are all over the place

Thanks for the usual incredible post...but then again...criticizing is easier than posting anything knowledgeable.:doh:

Lord Stiller
07-21-2008, 03:35 PM
Thanks for the usual incredible post...but then again...criticizing is easier than posting anything knowledgeable.:doh:

you went a little crazy with your post

Colon at right tackle, Starks at left? We should bench our best lineman (Marvel Smith)

revefsreleets
07-21-2008, 03:44 PM
There IS some hope here...we will have some depth in the offensive line if there are injuries (and one of the things that most SB teams have in common is lack of injuries/depth in case of injuries along the OL), and these guys all having at least some cross training at multiple spots can't hurt. But I still think they need to pick a starting line and run with it relatively quickly.

lamberts-lost-tooth
07-21-2008, 04:06 PM
you went a little crazy with your post

Colon at right tackle, Starks at left? We should bench our best lineman (Marvel Smith)

Typo...Starks could be RT,with Colon at Right Guard

slashsteel
07-21-2008, 04:27 PM
I know many would have Colon sliding over to LG or maybe even competing at RG. But I think he will be given every opportunity to start again at RT. Regardless of that one year deal Starks was given. I don't think you can give Starks a start make him earn it if he wins, sure then look to move Colon inside. I would think we could almost do the same with Starks. Try him out at G why not?

One way or another the FO needs to decide on a starting O-line fairly quickly and give them time to play together.......

Black@Gold Forever32
07-21-2008, 09:21 PM
Colon needs to be moved to OG....I think he will always be an average at best OT...I think he could be a dominating guard....He has the attitude to play in the NFL for sure....When he was drafted some reports stated he would be better suited for OG....

Problem is Max Starks isn't the answer either.....Which I think Colon starts at RT by default again.....This time Starks will be one expensive backup.....I just hope one of these guys has a great camp and I don't care who it is....I just what to see some solid play at RT and keep those pass rushers off Ben...lol

Lord Stiller
07-22-2008, 08:20 AM
problem with moving Colon to guard is who sits, Simmons or Kemo?

Black@Gold Forever32
07-22-2008, 03:23 PM
problem with moving Colon to guard is who sits, Simmons or Kemo?

What has Kemo proven?....Let Colon compete with Kemo...But the problem there is then Starks would start at RT.....The Steelers are stuck playing Colon at RT since they don't have a better option at RT.....Upgrade the RT spot and then move Colon to OG.....Another point its not like Simmons is one of the elite OGs in the NFL....He played poorly as well the last few years....He is average at best........

revefsreleets
07-22-2008, 08:17 PM
The FACT of the matter is, wherever these guys end up, it means the best player won the job. Do you think all this crazy competition, and the fact that there will be dudes breathing down each others neck for the starting position makes our offensive line worse, or a helluva lot better?

I WANT all of these guys playing their asses off every play, regardless of whether it's for the team or for prestige, or even for money.

When players compete, the team gets better.

Elvis
07-23-2008, 06:18 AM
If it is Colon or Hartwig, it doesnt matter to me who gets this offensive line going, we just need someone to come in here and take over and get the job done.
I just wonder if anyone has thought that it might be that we took a big step down in offensive line coaches?..... I am starting to think that that might have a lot to do with it
:noidea:

Lord Stiller
07-23-2008, 08:28 AM
What has Kemo proven?....Let Colon compete with Kemo...But the problem there is then Starks would start at RT.....The Steelers are stuck playing Colon at RT since they don't have a better option at RT.....Upgrade the RT spot and then move Colon to OG.....Another point its not like Simmons is one of the elite OGs in the NFL....He played poorly as well the last few years....He is average at best........

Kemo is a total beast. He might be our best guard

And you make a good point, Starks is good at LT but struggles at RT (even moreso than Colon did)

Give It To Abercrombie
07-23-2008, 05:01 PM
Let me preface with: I don't like Starks, I am not impressed by Starks at either tackle and I hope he plays his ass off this year planning to hit free agency and drive his price up, then we let him leave, however......

He was the starting RT when we won the Super Bowl. Yes, other pieces were different, consistent play at center, healthy LT Smith, etc, but some of you are talking as if the guy is completely incapable.

Health and quitting with the musical chairs is as important as anything.

My vote is:
LT Smith
LG Kemo
C Hartwig
RG Colon
RT Starks