Statistically, at least from a pass protection standpoint, it was a rather solid performance for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line in the Week 1 win over the Cincinnati Bengals as quarterback Mitch Trubisky was sacked just once, — on a play he ran out of bounds on – hit five times and pressured just six times on 38 drop backs.
Granted, some of that success had to do with the quick-strike passing attack the Steelers employed Sunday under second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada, as the Steelers aimed to protect their new-look offensive line against a really good Cincinnati front seven.
However, it wasn’t pretty at all on the ground as the Steelers rushed for just 75 yards on 22 carries, six of those going for 36 yards from wide receiver Chase Claypool on jet sweeps. Combined, Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren carried the football 13 times for 30 yards. Yikes.
Coming out of the Week 1 performance, new Steelers center Mason Cole told reporters Thursday from inside the locker room at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side that while it wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, there’s plenty to build on for the Steelers’ new-look offensive line, which made plays in big spots to help the Steelers win.
“To keep Mitch [Trubisky] clean for most of the game was huge for us,” Cole said to reporters Thursday, according to video via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski on Twitter. “That game was so up-and-down, it never really felt like we found our rhythm, but we just kept fighting, and the plays the needed to be made, we were there, we were ready and we made them.
“Like I said, it wasn’t perfect by any means, but to come out of there with a win in that environment is huge for us.”
The game was up and down and back and forth, which likely played a role in the offensive line not really being able to get into a rhythm, at least on the ground. Some of that had to do with Canada not allowing them to get in rhythm with the run game, often going away from it, putting the football in Trubisky’s hands time and time again.
Moving forward, Canada will have to give the Steelers’ offensive line a chance to get in rhythm in the run game, which will take some pressure off of Trubisky and open things up downfield for the Steelers in the passing attack. There might be some growing pains there, but they’re never going to improve if they’re not given the chance to work downhill, gel and get into a rhythm rolling downhill in the run game.