Analyzing the Steelers O-Line: Falcons, Week 1

Pittsburgh’s offensive line was already considered the team’s weak link. And that was before Willie Colon or Max Starks were sitting on the sideline.

So how did the Steelers’ offensive line fare against the Falcons? Better than you may think.

The Steelers gave up three sacks, which isn’t very good when you consider the Falcons spent much of the day rushing three or four while dropping most everyone back into coverage. But Pittsburgh also ran the ball relatively effectively against a Falcons’ defense that knew they were going to run the ball.

Rewatching play after play, there were some lowlights, but overall, there were more highlights. Trai Essex isn’t a Pro Bowler, but he was tossing defensive tackles to the ground in the running game. Chris Kemoeatu seems to be inspired to be a little nastier now that he sees Maurkice Pouncey blocking to the whistle.

And then there is Pouncey. It’s hard to say how much Pouncey’s arrival has meant to this line, but when your rookie in his first game is already the best player on the line, it’s a pretty good sign he’s going to stick around a while. Of Pouncey’s 60 snaps, there were only three where plays you could fault his block. One of those was where the defensive tackle made the tackle, but it’s not entirely clear if he was Pouncey’s responsibility. The other two were plays where he couldn’t effectively block a linebacker on the move. If that’s the worst of a lineman’s problems, he’s doing pretty well.

The offensive tackles were a little shakier. Or more accurately, the right tackle was a little shaky. Flozell Adams mixed in plays where he shoved men to the ground and plays where he struggled to stay with defensive ends. Max Starks was significantly better before he left with an ankle injury, and Jonathan Scott was fine in run blocking and not so good in pass blocking.

Standard disclaimer: As I’ve been doing all preseason, I gave each play a Yes/No grade on whether it was an effective block. We’re simply looking at results here, because we don’t always know what the assignment was. And do remember as always, I’m giving a reasonably informed opinion here, but I can be wrong on my assessment of who was at fault on a play.

OVERALL BLOCKING
Player Good Blocks Total Blocks PCT
Pouncey 57 60 95.00%
Essex 55 60 91.67%
Starks 37 41 90.24%
Kemoeatu 53 60 88.33%
Ward 12 14 85.71%
Scott 16 19 84.21%
Wallace 10 12 83.33%
Miller 32 39 82.05%
Johnson 11 14 78.57%
Adams 47 61 77.05%
Spaeth 15 21 71.43%
PASS BLOCKING
Player Good Blocks Total Blocks PCT
Pouncey 31 31 100.00%
Spaeth 3 3 100.00%
Kemoeatu 30 31 96.77%
Essex 29 31 93.55%
Starks 18 21 85.71%
Adams 25 31 80.65%
Miller 8 10 80.00%
Scott 6 8 75.00%
RUN BLOCKING
Player Good Blocks Total Blocks PCT
Ward 11 12 91.67%
Starks 18 20 90.00%
Scott 9 10 90.00%
Pouncey 25 29 86.21%
Essex 25 29 86.21%
Miller 24 29 82.76%
Wallace 8 10 80.00%
Johnson 11 14 78.57%
Spaeth 13 17 76.47%
Kemoeatu 22 29 75.86%
Adams 20 29 68.97%

Before we dive into the play-by-play. By my unofficial count I had Heath Miller, Max Starks and Flozell Adams each being responsible for one sack (Miller and Adams appeared to share responsibility on both of the last two sacks, so two halves each make a whole). I also had Adams giving up three quarterback hurries, with Starks and Scott each giving up two. For Scott that was two QB hurries in only eight pass plays. If you’re a tough grader, you could have even have given him a third, as he knocked John Abraham to the ground, but Abraham crawled to try to get at Dixon’s feet on another pass play.

OK, on to the play-by-play breakdown for each player.

Max Starks: As we mentioned above, Starks had a pretty solid day until Maurkice Pouncey and a Falcons’ defensive lineman landed on his ankle. Of course he also didn’t have to worry a whole lot about figuring out who to block. Whether it was a desire to flood the zones or concerns about Dixon’s mobility, the Falcons didn’t do a lot of complex blitzing.

Play Result Good Block?
1 Little to do with run other way Yes
2 Easy block on P/A boot other way Yes
3 Gets driven back, but throws his man outside on inside run so it’s all good Yes
4 Nothing to do on quick pass Yes
5 Lets Abraham drive upfield out of play Yes
6 Throws his man outside on pass his way Yes
7 Fails to reach block on man shooting through “B” gap No
8 Throws his man outside again Yes
9 Driven back but maintains position Yes
10 Solid job on Abraham Yes
11 Very good job finding and blocking Lofton Yes
12 Goes to block LB, but he’s so fooled he never tries to get into play Yes
13 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
14 OK job on run other way Yes
15 Initially walls off Lofton but loses him Yes
16 Good job on DT Yes
17 Busy but doesn’t do much. Quick block inside then tries to pick up Abraham outside Yes
18 Rides his man outside, lets Mendenhall cut back. May have been poor block, but it worked Yes
19 Abraham tries to go inside, squashes him and lays on him Yes
20 Lets his man rush upfield Yes
21 Turns his man Yes
22 Turns his man again Yes
23 Solid work on Davis Yes
24 Great block on Davis Yes
25 Stops Lofton in his tracks Yes
26 Loses Peterson quickly but it all works out Yes
27 Abraham gets inside of him, but still pushing him when Dixon throws Yes
28 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
29 Not much to do, draw other way Yes
30 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
31 Beaten by Abraham to outside to get hand (barely) on Dixon as he flies by No
32 Three-man rush. Easy Yes
33 Three-man rush, but Abraham beats him forces Dixon to step up No
34 Great job all around. Falcons send 7, but Steelers pick it up Yes
35 Solid work on Davis Yes
36 Has to fight but keeps Bierman off Dixon Yes
37 Blocks no one No
38 Whiffs on block of Abraham No
39 Fights but stays in front of Abraham Yes
40 Lets Abraham fly by on screen Yes
41 Goes to ground with ankle injury Yes

Chris Kemoeatu: Kemoeatu had one of the best games of his Steelers career that I can remember (probably second only to the Chiefs game where he was fill-in starter back in 2006). Consistency is often Kemoeatu’s problem so seeing him play well play after play is very encouraging. And every now and then, he has one of those blocks that you dream of seeing — this game here were two. Once he just tossed linebacker Curtis Lofton to the ground and on another he let the defensive tackle fire out, grabbed him by the shoulder pads and simply threw him into the grass. It was one of those shocking blocks where you think “is he really that strong?”

Play Result Good Block?
1 Pulls, double teams Spaeth’s man Yes
2 Easy block on P/A boot other way Yes
3 Excellent block on Curtis Lofton to take him out of play Yes
4 Nothing to do on quick pass Yes
5 Overpowered by his man, but that takes DT out of play on run inside Yes
6 Handles his man, then looks to help out Mendenhall downfield, but Mendy is too quick for him to catch up Yes
7 Mediocre bump block on LB Yes
8 Finds inside shoulder of his man drives him out Yes
9 Ugly but effective block on Lewis Yes
10 Combines with Pouncey on DT Yes
11 Decent job on Lewis but doesn’t sustain block Yes
12 Pulls to give a good trap on DT Yes
13 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
14 Good job on Peters Yes
15 So-so job on Bierman Yes
16 Solid job of keeping head up and handing off Yes
17 Pulls but meets DE Anderson in hole and causes traffic No
18 Doesn’t make block on LB No
19 3-man rush no one to block Yes
20 Good block on LB Yes
21 Excellent shoves DT then picks up LB Yes
22 Excellent. Same block DT then pick up LB and he executes again Yes
23 Good job on Lewis Yes
24 Doesn’t stick is lockas Lewis helps on tackle No
25 Nice work on Bierman Yes
26 Very good block on #91 Yes
27 Actually hurts Flozell’s chances of blocking Abraham No
28 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
29 Blocks no one bc run other way Yes
30 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
31 Excellent job picking up LB Yes
32 Three-man rush. Easy Yes
33 Not much to do Yes
34 Great job all around. Falcons send 7, but Steelers pick it up Yes
35 Great. Blocks DT and Lofton again Yes
36 Helps Pouncey Yes
37 Knocked into backfield which disrupts run No
38 OK job on #97 Yes
39 No one to block Yes
40 WOW. Knocks Lofton on his butt Yes
41 Misses block on LB No
42 Solid work with Anderson Yes
43 Gets held up at line when supposed to block LB No
44 GREAT BLOCK. Grabs DT by shoulder pads tosses him to ground Yes
45 No one to block Yes
46 Good job of pass pro Yes
47 OK job, helps on DT then shoves LB Yes
48 Moves Anderson out of play Yes
49 Pulls and gets knocked to ground by LB No
50 Screen pass blown up by Davis Yes
51 Helps Scott Yes
52 Excellent block on Anderson Yes
53 Not much to do Yes
54 Bootleg makes job easy Yes
55 Good job on #91 Yes
56 Helps out Yes
57 Solid block, but should keep churning legs Yes
58 Good job blocking to whistle Yes
59 Solid work on backside Yes
60 Excellent block on back side Yes

Maurkice Pouncey: It’s only been four preseason games and one regular season showdown, but it’s already easy to tell that Pouncey is going to be very fun to watch. In some ways center is physically the easiest job on the offensive line, and in others it may be the toughest. Against a four-man front like the Falcons’ play, Pouncey often snapped the ball without anyone lined up over him. That meant that there were numerous pass plays where his only responsibility was to help out one of the guards because he had no one to block.

But at the same time, it also means that Pouncey is often asked to help out on a defensive tackle then go out and pick up a linebacker, which if a tough block to execute. By my count Pouncey was asked to do that at least nine times. He pulled it off on six of the nine blocks, including a nice block on the 50-yard game winner.

Play Result Good Block?
1 Drives his man out of the play Yes
2 Not much to do so he just goes looking for guys to hit Yes
3 Creates the hole for first down by driving Trey Lewis out of hole Yes
4 Nothing to do on quick pass Yes
5 Finds and blocks Lofton enough for Redman to get first down Yes
6 Flies outside quickly to try to cut CB. Misses him, but makes him take bad angle to ball Yes
7 Very good, pushes DT then goes out to pick up LB, although Mendenhall runs up his back Yes
8 GREAT. Gets good leverage roots out his man and drives him down line Yes
9 Helps out Essex when he sees Anderson stunting inside Yes
10 Combines with Kemo on DT Yes
11 Outstanding again. Helps on DT then picks up LB Yes
12 Nice job getting and moving Lewis Yes
13 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
14 Outstanding. Helps Kemo then picks up LB Yes
15 Helps out Kemo on DE, but lets DT go free to disrupt run. His fault? No
16 Barely shoves Weatherspoon past Dixon but he does Yes
17 Good block on Lewis Yes
18 Unreal. With one arm manages to get Lofton after Kemo failed to Yes
19 Handles DT. Then runs downfield to block LB after catch. Yes
20 Nice job on Lewis Yes
21 Wins battle with Lewis Yes
22 Moves Lewis back then lays on him Yes
23 Good job with help Yes
24 Blocks Lewis then poor block on Lofton who helps on tackle No
25 Good work Yes
26 Gives Mendenhall a lane with block of Lofton Yes
27 Good job on #91 Yes
28 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
29 Misses block on LB No
30 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
31 Very good job on Jerry Yes
32 Three-man rush. Easy Yes
33 Solid on Jerry Yes
34 Great job all around. Falcons send 7, but Steelers pick it up Yes
35 Drives Lewis way out of play Yes
36 Solid work Yes
37 Excellent block puts LB on ground Yes
38 Helps out Essex when he sees Anderson stunting inside Yes
39 Works with Essex Yes
40 Nice job on #97 Yes
41 Great block on #97 Yes
42 Helps Kemo Yes
43 Drives DT out of play Yes
44 Not much to do Yes
45 Helps out Yes
46 Good job of pass pro Yes
47 Great block on #91 Yes
48 Picks Jerry up after Essex drives him back and seals him off Yes
49 Stays with DE Anderson Yes
50 Screen pass blown up by Davis Yes
51 Helps Essex Yes
52 Misses block on Weatherspoon who trips up Mendenhall No
53 Gets put on heels, but sticks with block and drives him out of pocket Yes
54 Bootleg makes job easy Yes
55 Others screw-ups leave him blocking two people Yes
56 Easy wth help from Essex Yes
57 Helps Essex get pancake then picks up MLB Yes
58 Excellent help block then picks up LB Yes
59 Good job picking up LB Yes
60 GREAT. Helps on DL then seals off LB forever Yes

Trai Essex: Essex’s reputation among Steelers’ fans isn’t all that good. And Pro Football Focus’ stats found him to be one of the worst guards in the league last year. But in the opener, there was little to complain about. Even Essex’s worst blocks weren’t all that bad — he got tied up at the line by a defensive tackle trying to make sure he didn’t reach a linebacker and he got beaten to the inside by a quicker defensive linemen. These are the things that happen occasionally to every interior lineman. But he also showed good strength and a nastiness I don’t remember seeing last year.

Play Result Good Block?
1 Catches his man, makes him buckle and occupies him Yes
2 Bootleg makes his job easy Yes
3 Beaten by Vance Walker who flows down line to make tackle No
4 Nothing to do on quick pass Yes
5 Good job letting Anderson ride his way out of play Yes
6 Good job of turning his man and taking him out of play Yes
7 Destroys DT Peters Yes
8 Just as good as Pouncey’s block. Yes
9 Hands off his man, picks up Anderson Yes
10 Three-man rush, no one to block Yes
11 Good job on run other way Yes
12 DE tries to intercept him, but he manages to get to LB and block him Yes
13 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
14 Ugly effective block. Hits his man, then falls down but by doing so cuts a LB Yes
15 Searches to put Weatherspoon on ground Yes
16 Blocks no one No
17 Rides his man out of the play Yes
18 Puts DT on ground and lays on him Yes
19 Three-man rush, no one to block Yes
20 Occupies Peterson enough to create hole Yes
21 Doesn’t get any push, but still OK block Yes
22 Ugly, but works. His man drives him back, but he then puts him on ground Yes
23 Helps Pouncey Yes
24 Adequate job on DT Yes
25 Good job Yes
26 GREAT. Destroys his man and keeps blocking to whistle Yes
27 Works with Adams on DT Yes
28 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
29 Decent job on Jerry Yes
30 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
31 Blocks down good job on Weatherspoon Yes
32 Three-man rush. Easy Yes
33 Nice job to help save Adams Yes
34 Great job all around. Falcons send 7, but Steelers pick it up Yes
35 Essex fails to get free to block Peterson who knifes in to blow up play No
36 Good block on DE Yes
37 Excellent block on #99 Yes
38 Solid work Yes
39 Works with Pouncey Yes
40 Essex makes ugly but effective block on screen Yes
41 OK job Yes
42 Good job on DT Yes
43 Poor job of getting block on LB No
44 Solid work Yes
45 Good block on Jerry Yes
46 Good job of pass pro Yes
47 DT does good job of firing in to him and tying him up so he can’t block LB Peterson. Peterson makes tackle No
48 Drives Jerry off ball Yes
49 Blocks DT and then LB. Yes
50 Screen pass blown up by Davis Yes
51 Works with Pouncey Yes
52 Good block on LB Lofton Yes
53 Helps Adams Yes
54 Bootleg makes job easy Yes
55 Falls down on block No
56 Helps Poncey Yes
57 Good job, pancakes his man Yes
58 Getting very good push and shows some nastiness Yes
59 Drives #97 out of hole Yes
60 GREAT. Throws his man to the ground Yes

Flozell Adams: Adams wasn’t great on Sunday, but he wasn’t first-couple-weeks-of-the-preseason awful either. This performance is pretty much what we should expect. He’s a veteran lineman who’ll get flagged once a game (a false start this time). He’ll struggle against speed rushers (he was involved in back-to-back sacks allowed), and every now and then he’ll show you a play where he looks like the strongest man in the world tossing aside 280-pound defenders like they’re fleas.

Play Result Good Block?
1 Helps out Essex, can’t find anyone else to block Yes
2 Boot makes his job easy Yes
3 Doesn’t do much, but run is inside, so he is able to recover and shove man away Yes
4 Nothing to do on quick pass Yes
5 Picks up Weatherspoon and shields him Yes
6 So-so effort, but he does manage to block Lofton Yes
7 Takes Anderson and keeps him occupied Yes
8 Finds and handles LB Yes
9 Beaten by Peters through “B” gap for QB pressure No
10 Drives Biermann past Dixon, but Dixon decides to tuck and run. Had time Yes
11 Good job on run other way Yes
12 Little slow getting to Lofton who makes tackle as Adams’ blocks him No
13 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
14 Drives his man back, but loses him and falls down Yes
15 Shove helps put Witherspoon on ground Yes
16 Lays massive hands on LB, slows him down Yes
17 Good job on LB Yes
18 Just looks for backside protection, shoves Abraham Yes
19 Does good job on Bierman Yes
20 Doesn’t do much with Abraham who almost gets Mendenhall in backfield No
21 #91 gets some movement down line, but Adams keeps churning Yes
22 Poor block as his man manages to make tackle No
23 Shoves Bierman past Dixon Yes
24 Good job on Weatherspoon Yes
25 Good job on LB Yes
26 GREAT. Puts Bierman on the ground Yes
27 Works with Essex on DT Yes
28 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
29 Doesn’t keep eyes open runs past Lbs who make tackle No
30 Quick pass makes it easy Yes
31 Beaten by Bierman for mild pressure No
32 Three-man rush. Easy Yes
33 Bierman gives him trouble but Essex helps out Yes
34 Great job all around. Falcons send 7, but Steelers pick it up Yes
35 Nice push on #99 Yes
36 Helps Essex Yes
37 Good job on Bierman Yes
38 Does enough on Bierman Yes
39 False start No
40 Bierman drives him back but he’s saved by Redman Yes
41 Blocks no one No
42 OK job Yes
43 Good block on Bierman Yes
44 Excellent job driving DT down the line Yes
45 Solid protection Yes
46 Has Bierman handled by Dixon step up lets Bierman get free Yes
47 Good job of pass pro Yes
48 Drives DT Yes
49 Bierman cuts across him gets into backfield, but is on backside of play and Adams sticks with him No
50 Gets no push and his man makes tackle No
51 Screen pass blown up by Davis Yes
52 Loses Bierman to inside for pressure No
53 Loses his man late who gets arm on Mendenhall No
54 Engulfs Bierman Yes
55 Bootleg makes job easy Yes
56 Shoves but doesn’t stick with Lofton who makes sack No
57 Loses Bierman to outside No
58 So-so block, loses his man on run his way No
59 Solid. Blocks Anderson then picks up LB Yes
60 Cut block doesn’t work on Anderson No
61 GREAT. Helps then seals off LB Yes

Jonathan Scott: When Starks went down, you’re not a rational Steelers’ fan if you’re heart didn’t jump into your throat a little bit. Pittsburgh doesn’t exactly have a whole slew of NFL-ready backup tackles. But Scott held his own in a cover-your-eyes-while-watching kind of way. He did give up a pair of quarterback pressures, but when it came to run blocking, he was excellent. I still fear for Dixon’s safety next week, but considering the difficulty of coming in to play left tackle against John Abraham cold, Scott did very well.

Play Result Good Block?
1 Abraham drives him inside, forces Dixon to scramble. Pressure allowed No
2 Good job on DE Davis Yes
3 Very good block Yes
4 Beaten around corner by Abraham for QB pressure, forces Dixon to step up No
5 Good job of pass pro Yes
6 Good block on Davis Yes
7 So-so. Drives Davis back, but then Davis gets free to make tackle downfield Yes
8 Ugly but effective block of DE Yes
9 Cut block of Davis doesn’t work which leads to PBU No
10 OK job on Abraham, has help from Kemo Yes
11 Lets Abraham duck inside, so he can seal corner Yes
12 Sticks with Abraham with help from Mendenhall chip Yes
13 Bootleg makes job easy Yes
14 Weatherspoon goes to ground but crawls after Dixon Yes
15 Solid work Yes
16 GREAT. Excellent block puts Peterson on ground, then knocks him down again Yes
17 Good job blocking to whistle Yes
18 So-so block Yes
19 Easy block on Abraham Yes

Heath Miller: Antonio Gates and Jason Witten are often wide receivers in disguise. The Steelers sometimes use Miller as if he should be wearing No. 77. Miller is one of the team’s best pass receivers, but he’s also asked to block defensive ends in the running game, and even in the passing game as a tight end and as a fullback. I logged Miller as blocking on 39 of the Steelers’ 60 snaps.

Generally he manages to impersonate an offensive tackle. He had some excellent blocks during Sunday’s win, but he also played a part in back-to-back sacks when he reminded people that tight ends often have trouble blocking defensive ends.

Play Result Good Block?
1 Engaged Mike Peterson and took him to the ground Yes
2 Finds CB and drivs him away Yes
3 Helps get Ward free with quick block on CB Yes
4 OUTSTANDING. Puts Bierman on the ground and lays on top of him Yes
5 Blocks Anderson then finds Lofton as whistle blows Yes
6 Excellent block on DB Yes
7 Screens Weatherspoon Yes
8 Asked to block Abraham, can’t create movement. Abraham slides off for tackle No
9 Easy block on S DeCoud Yes
10 Poor block on Peterson as he sheds to make tackle No
11 Abraham (his man) takes play off Yes
12 Picks up CB blitz Yes
13 Weatherspoon beats his block but is on backside of run Yes
14 Very nice block on Weatherspoon after being lined up at FB Yes
15 Good cut block on Abraham Yes
16 Ehh. One shove of LB then he’s done Yes
17 Easy block on CB Yes
18 OK job Yes
19 Good second effort to block for Ward downfield Yes
20 Good block on Weatherspoon Yes
21 Helps on Abraham Yes
22 Good blitz pickup of Lofton Yes
23 Helps with pile push Yes
24 Great job all around. Falcons send 7, but Steelers pick it up Yes
25 Helps Essex on DE Yes
26 Poor block on Peterson as he sheds to make tackle No
27 Adequate Yes
28 Poor cut block doesn’t slow down DE No
29 Good block on backside Yes
30 Manages to reach Lofton for block Yes
31 Nice initial block, but Bierman gets free to help on tackle No
32 Screen pass blown up by Davis Yes
33 Excellent block on Bierman Yes
34 Bierman rag dolls him for QB pressure No
35 Gets tossed aside by Bierman for sack No
36 Good block run the other way Yes
37 Blocks well on back side Yes
38 Excellent backside block Yes
39 GAME-WINNER. Takes Bierman and throws him inside Yes

Matt Spaeth: One of my hopes for an improved running game in 2010 is the improved blocking of Spaeth. During the preseason he showed better strength, technique and tenacity. In the opener he showed that it wasn’t just a preseason fluke. Spaeth actually blocked John Abraham one-on-one on multiple occasions. The only real problems he had came when he tried to cut defensive ends to take out their legs. On multiple plays the linemen just stepped over his block to disrupt running plays.

Play Result Good Block?
1 Excellent block on John Abraham with a little help from Kemoeatu Yes
2 Locks up Jamaal Anderson and keeps him busy Yes
3 Not pretty but effective block on LB Yes
4 Finds and handles CB Yes
5 Turns Anderson drives him outside Yes
6 Good job on picking up Peterson rushing Yes
7 False Start No
8 Lets DE run himself out of play Yes
9 Mediocre cut on Abraham on run other way Yes
10 Good block on LB Yes
11 Loses Anderson who makes tackle No
12 OK job on Anderson Yes
13 Love this block works on Abraham for solid 3 seconds Yes
14 Fails on cut block as his man makes tackle No
15 GREAT. Manages to block Abraham one on one Yes
16 GREAT. Keeps Weatherspoon very busy Yes
17 Adequate Yes
18 Poor cut block that Abraham steps over No
19 Solid block on CB Grimes Yes
20 Nice work initially, but loses Anderson who makes tackle No
21 Easy block because Weatherspoon flies to QB. Gets up and blocks a S too Yes

David Johnson: Johnson had an outstanding block to help free Rashard Mendenhall on the 50-yard game-winner. That being said, it didn’t appear to be a great day for Johnson as a fullback. When Johnson is asked to block as a tight end, he looks very comfortable, but he often has more trouble landing a solid blow when he is asked to target a linebacker from the fullback spot.

It also seems puzzling that, on most plays where Johnson is the fullback, he ran through one hole while Mendenhall chose another, often on the other side of the line. Maybe I’m old school, but in my mind a fullback blows up the linebacker so that the tailback can follow and cut inside or outside of that block. On Sunday, Johnson seemed more like a decoy than a lead blocker.

Play Result Good Block?
1 Meets LB Peterson in hole, Redman choses another hole, but Peterson helps make tackle Yes
2 No one to block as Mendenhall doesn’t follow him Yes
3 Decent block on LB, but goes to ground instead of staying upright. Again Mendenhall doesn’t follow him through hole. Yes
4 Excellent block on Lofton Yes
5 Whiffs on block of Lofton No
6 Just runs into middle of pile, but Mendenhall cuts back No
7 Poor block just shoves Lofton as he flies by No
8 Blocks CB outside, but Mendenhall goes inside Yes
9 Again Johnson runs outside, Mendenhall goes other way Yes
10 Back at FB, Mendenhall again goes through different hole Yes
11 As usual, Johnson at FB runs through one gap to block, Mendenhall goes other way Yes
12 Mendenhall actually follows him this time. Picks up DE Anderson Yes
13 Runs to left and finds LB, Redman runs right Yes
14 GAME-WINNER. Mendenhall follows him this time, he blocks LB and gets CB caught up in traffic. Best block of the day Yes
This entry was posted in 2010 steelers, O-Line Analysis, Offensive Line. Bookmark the permalink.
  • ToddinSyracuse

    Great stuff JJ…

  • Bigswa

    In my latest show – I gave them a B+ grade because of the sacks. They played really well in the running game.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UR6KXGPFIFYZSVJNCXCJNHDQJQ Bob Costas

    I think Pouncey just underscores what a lot of Steelers fans have been saying for years: draft some o-lineman before round 4. When the line was really good several years ago they had a 3 first round picks, a 2nd round pick and a 3rd round pick in the lineup (M.Smith, Faneca, Hartings, Simmons, Starks). So a 3rd round pick was the lowest investment in terms of draft position on the previously good lines.

    The last several years, when the line was awful, that same 3rd rounder represented the highest value pick on the starting offensive line. So it’s nice and not that surprising that when they final invested in a offensive lineman on day 1 they were rewarded with a premium player. Hopefully next year they’ll do it again.

    /long-winded (typed?) rant

  • Ted

    Great analysis. The balanced offense that focused largely on the run and short passes resulted in the shocking stat of Chris Kemoeatu executing 30 good blocks on 31 pass plays.

    This guy can be nasty in the ground game, but he has to be one of the worst pass-blocking left guards in the league. Hopefully, he has improved in this area, but we will see if that holds true when the Steelers are playing from behind and in obvious passing situations.

  • Godfatherofsoul

    Phenomenal work!!!

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