A closer look at the Steelers' offensive line

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
8:07
AM ET
Steel City wake-up call: morning links

The offensive line has been one of the main targets of fan criticism, and rightfully so considering the return on a unit the Steelers are getting from a group in which they have invested heavily via draft picks.

But a review of the Steelers’ 40-23 loss to the Bears by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mark Kaboly shows that the line gave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger enough time to throw on more than half of his pass attempts Sunday night.

It also showed that the Steelers are still trying to confuse opposing quarterbacks as the defense tries to generate turnovers and register more sacks.

The Steelers are both perplexed and frustrated as they try to dig out from a start unlike any other in Mike Tomlin’s tenure. Tomlin has never had a losing season, and the Steelers had always started well in his six previous seasons as head coach.

Remember, the Steelers were 6-2 in 2009 before losing five of their last eight games. They were 6-3 last season before the bottom fell out.

Like Tomlin, the veteran players are on ground that is unfamiliar as it is shaky. It will be up to them to lead the Steelers out of a funk that extends back to last season.

The scrutiny of the Steelers -- and where they have gone wrong -- also extends to personnel decisions that have been made in recent drafts.

The perception that prevailed not too long ago was that the Steelers neglected their offensive line, something all the more egregious to fans considering all that the team has to protect in Roethlisberger.

Well, the Steelers have used a pair of first-round draft picks and pair of second-round selections since 2010 on offensive linemen. The line has been a liability this season, leading to questions of whether the Steelers picked the wrong players to build around up front.

The offense has endured more of the criticism but the defense is not getting a free pass after the Steelers’ first 0-3 start since 2000. The Steelers are not forcing any turnovers, and that is something has been an issue for a couple of seasons now.

Consider that the Steelers had 35 takeaways in 2010. They have the same number in 35 regular-season games since then.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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