04-20-2011, 08:03 PM
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Cold Hard Football Facts - Steelers Need Left Guard
Interesting read in SI by Cold Hard Football Facts
10 headline needs we've identified for some the league's marquee teams or those clubs that offered the most compelling statistical storylines of 2010....
Immediate need: a left guard
The Steelers have fielded plenty of fine teams over the past three years, including the Super Bowl champs in 2008 and the AFC champs in 2010.
But the offensive line has consistently been the organization's weak link and has quite literally never recovered from the loss of future Hall of Fame guard Alan Faneca, who was signed to a big-bucks deal by the Jets before the 2008 season (and played with the Cardinals last year).
We understand the reason the Steelers let Faneca go. He was getting older and he demanded huge money. Regardless, Pittsburgh has struggled to both run effectively and protect the passer in the years since he's left, often in quite frustrating fashion.
This weak link was exposed badly in the single biggest play of the 2010 season and the turning point of the Super Bowl XLV against the Packers.
The Packers had just taken a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when QB Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass at his own goal line. He had no chance. Left guard Chris Kemoeatu, the heir to Faneca's throne at LG, was tossed seven yards backward by DT Howard Green, who got a paw up in Big Ben's face. The QB's pass fluttered badly and was intercepted by Nick Collins, who returned for a TD.
The score was 14-0. There was plenty of football still be played. But, statistically speaking, the outcome of the game was set in stone: every team in Super Bowl history that's suffered a pick-six has lost. The Steelers proved no exception.
It was just one play. But it underscored in dramatic fashion the fact that the Steelers need help on the OL. In the biggest moment of the biggest game of the year, the OL snapped -- as weak links usually do. Pittsburgh was an elite team in every measure last year, except on the offensive line.
The Steelers ranked No. 15 on our Offensive Hog Index in 2010, No. 18 in average per rush attempt (4.09) and No. 22 at protecting the passer -- allowing a sack or INT on 10.0 percent of drop backs in 2010. And this final flaw haunted them in the biggest play of the biggest game of the 2010 season.
Pittsburgh boasts elite defense filled with playmakers, an elite if uneven quarterback, great weapons at the skill positions on offense and all the tools needed to make another Super Bowl run. They could use an elite offensive lineman, too.
I think CB is a bigger need - maybe I have simply become used to the Steelers OL being mediocre while expecting the defense to be consistently great