Following a disastrous 2021 season in the trenches for the Pittsburgh Steelers, former GM Kevin Colbert threw some money at the problem in free agency prior to his retirement, signing the likes of veterans Mason Cole and James Daniels to address some interior offensive line issues.
Not only did Colbert bring in those two veterans, he retained right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor in free agency as well, allowing the Steelers to continue to grow and have some continuity along the offensive line while transitioning to a new position coach in Pat Meyer.
So far, the early returns are not promising in the trenches ahead of the 2022 season, which has draw the ire of head coach Mike Tomlin, especially after the debacle that was the preseason performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in mid-August. Since then, the Steelers offensive line has shown some improvements, especially in the preseason finale against the Detroit Lions.
That said, they still aren’t where they want to be — or should be – as a unit, something Tomlin acknowledged Tuesday during his weekly Tomlin Tuesday press conference with the media, stating that the Steelers’ offensive line better make enough plays to be successful along the way throughout the 2022 season while still undergoing some growth and development, both individually and as a unit.
“Some of them are new to the professional game. Some of them are new to Pittsburgh. It is a collective body of work and so there’s a cohesion component of it as well,” Tomlin stated to reporters, according to video via Steelers.com. “There’s a lot of reasons why, you know, units and particularly a unit such as the offensive line develop at different rates and sometimes experience the growing pains associated with that.
“I’m not expecting that to cease instantly. As we push into the regular season, they’ll be continually growing as a collective,” Tomlin added. “But they better make enough plays to be successful along the way. And I’m just acknowledging that truth or reality as well.”
For whatever reason why, the offensive line — as Tomlin stated — historically takes longer to gel, largely due to the number of moving parts within the unit as a whole. Add in the fact that the Steelers are learning a new technique under Meyer this season, that simple exasperates the developmental curve and the gelling as a unit.
Patience is certainly required with this group, top to bottom, but as Tomlin said Tuesday, this unit better be good enough to help the Steelers win. If not, it will be a long, painful season in Pittsburgh, one that will have the position group consistently drawing the ire of Tomlin week after week.