Max Starks’ season is done. Jonathan Scott is now a starting left tackle in the NFL.
If I had written that sentence during the preseason, I would have banged my head into a wall repeatedly. Now, I can at least take a deep breath and say “It’s not as bad as it could be.”
Over at FanHouse, I posted an analysis of what it means to have Scott step into the starting lineup. The summary is that Scott has played just as well at left tackle as at right tackle, so it makes little sense to move Adams to left tackle and change up two positions instead of one.
I’m obviously not a scout, so I’m a little hesitant to make any predictions, but basing this completely off what I have seen when he’s played up to now this year. Scott’s play up to now this season leads me to believe he’ll be an adequate, if unspectacular replacement for Starks. I’d expect to see him give up a couple of pressures a game, probably 3-4 sacks over the next eight games. He’ll have enough bad plays that the casual fan may curse his name, but he’ll likely be a steady enough performer that the Steelers won’t be sunk because he’s at left tackle.
My bigger concern is what happens if Pittsburgh suffers another injury. The Steelers will either have to dress Tony Hills or newly activated Chris Scott as the team’s backup tackle now (technically Ramon Foster can play right tackle in a pinch too). Where Scott was comfortable playing either left or right tackle, Hills is much more comfortable at left tackle than right tackle. And Chris Scott, who can’t really be considered ready to play having not had any preseason time, is only a right tackle. So if the Steelers’ dress Hills, they will do so knowing that an injury to Adams likely means a switch at two positions (Scott moving over to right tackle and Hills coming in at left tackle). If they dress Chris Scott, then Adams has to be prepared to slide over to left tackle if something happens to Scott.
I’m worried about this because partly by plan and partly due to injuries, Adams has played every snap very few times this season. By subbing in Jonathan Scott, the Steelers have managed to keep Adams fresh. They don’t have that luxury any more.
For all the concerns about the Steelers’ offensive line, Starks, Scott and Adams have combined to allow three sacks in the first eight games. That’s excellent for any set of tackles. If Pittsburgh can do half as good over the second half, they’ll be OK. The bigger concerns about the offensive line may still revolve around the play of the guards.