This is a bit of a strange one, as the Steelers have been the AFC’s standard-bearer for a long time. They haven’t won a title since the 1970s though, and it seems as though they got complacent in recent years, with the team’s recent issues being a direct result of that.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ biggest strength is usually that they are the perennially most talented team in the NFL, so making a 6th round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh’s quarterback-desperate offense seems curious. The Steelers have been in the top 10 in the NFL in points scored every single season since the turn of the century, and the past four seasons have seen their offense ranked in the top five in total yards.
The Steelers’ latest puzzling move is not one that makes everyone happy. The Steelers traded away their #1 wide receiver in Martavis Bryant. This move comes on the heels of a two game suspension for Le’Veon Bell and an injury to Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers then sent the #5 pick in the draft to the Browns for the #3 pick and a third round pick.The Pittsburgh Steelers have been consistent in the NFL for the past two decades and haven’t had a losing season since 2003. One of the main reasons for Pittsburgh’s long-term success, year after year, is its strong, balanced offensive line. General manager Kevin Colbert knows how important the trenches are in the NFL. That’s why he surrounded Ben Roethlisberger with an impenetrable wall for most of his career.
But after the Steelers made the mysterious decision this week to fire six-time Pro Bowler David DeCastro, their lifelong strength has become their biggest weakness heading into the 2021 season.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ David DeCastro prepares to play in a game against the Indianapolis Colts in 2020 | Joe Sargent/Getty Images
The Steelers are facing a massive exodus from their offensive line. Pittsburgh has already lost starters Alejandro Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler this season, and Thursday they said goodbye to another starter by letting go of DeCastro, their longtime right guard and one of the most reliable linemen in the league.
DeCastro spent the first nine years of his NFL career wearing a black-and-gold jersey. He has made six Pro Bowl appearances and was named First-Team All-Pro in 2015 and 2017. Last season, he started 13 games for the Steelers and made his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance.
DeCastro is only 31 years old and his unexpected dismissal is surprising, to say the least. The Steelers’ offensive line has already bled dry. Why aggravate the injury?
But it appears that DeCastro, who suffered an ankle injury all of last season and is due for surgery this season, is actually considering retirement. Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shared text messages Thursday with the longtime Steelers linebacker.
We’ll have to wait and see how the surgery goes, DeCastro said. But I would have no problem hanging it up and moving on with my life.
Right now, the Steelers have to hope for a tie. If DeCastro signs with another team and still looks like the Pro Bowler he was in Pittsburgh, it won’t be good for the Steelers.
The Steelers have had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL over the past 20 years. The franchise has always been smart in selecting linemen in the high draft and keeping them throughout their careers.
But in the off-season, everything fell apart.
Pittsburgh lost nine-time Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey earlier this year, while former starters Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Filer signed other free agents. After firing DeCastro this week, the Steelers will have only one offensive lineman from last year back in 2021: Chukwuma Okorafor.
That can’t really be a confidence booster for Roethlisberger, who is making his 18th start of the season at age 39. The NFL season has begun.
Plus, the Steelers only have one starter on the offensive line after the departure of DeCastro: Chux Okorafor – and he will likely move from the right guard position last season to the left guard position.
Kevin Dotson has also started a few times in place of DeCastro, but is expected to take the LG position.
– Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) June 24, 2021
Losing four attackers in an entire season is not something that can be fully corrected until week one. The Steelers will have to make do with what they have on the roster, but they have several options to get the help they need.
Pittsburgh began its rebuild by contracting Trey Turner, five-time Pro Bowler, on Thursday. The veteran Cougar would be a good replacement for DeCastro at right guard.
But after Turner at right guard and Okorafor at left guard, the Steelers will have to choose between Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, Aviant Collins and Zach Banner to fill the three remaining spots on the line.
It could be a long year for Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense.
COMPARED TO: NBC Sports is making no secret of its growing interest in making Mike Tomlin the next Tony RomoFor every wonderful moment the Steelers have had in the last few years, there is another where they look as though they’re completely overmatched. We saw it this past weekend in Cincinnati, where the Steelers lost to the Bengals after a late touchdown. Andy Dalton and the Bengals put together a great performance against a tough Steelers defense, and they came away with the win. Of course, this isn’t the first time the Steelers have looked like a team who isn’t quite up to their usual standard.. Read more about colts steelers and let us know what you think.
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