An 0-4 start is nothing anyone expected, and going forward it isn’t clear if this team can rebound or not. Are they doomed to mediocrity for the duration, or will they rally the troops and make a playoff push? That remains to be seen, but there are some personnel choices that must be made in the short run, as well as long-term for this team to be successful.
And one player in particular has been a thorn in the side of this team all year. That player is starting left tackle Mike Adams. The most important position on the line is being manned by the worst lineman on the team.
Not to get too sports-specific with my analogy here, but Adams is a big turnstile who looks cemented to the field for long stretches of games. His run blocking reminds me of the fat kid in middle playing dodgeball, just sticking out his hands and shutting his eyes, hoping he doesn’t get hit.
And as bad as that sounds, his pass blocking is worse. Use whatever metaphor you want. He’s a matador, a sieve or any other object that easily allows things to pass by or through it. That’s Adams game in a nutshell.
But if you don’t believe me, here are just a couple of examples from last Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Here, just before the snap Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is lined up wide. Allen is one of the top pass rushers in the league, so it is expected Adams would be a challenge. But on more than one occasion, Allen made it look easy.
At the snap, Jared pushes wide, forcing Adams to open up. Which is fine if Adams keeps his butt down and his head up. But instead, he lunges, drops his head and has no idea where Allen is until it is too late.
But it wasn’t just Allen who got the best of Adams. On this play we see Allen in a Wide-9 set up, and linebacker Chad Greenway has snuck up in the void created. At this point Adams has a decision to make.
This time Allen comes around on a twist and it’s an easy task for Greenway to put a punch into Adams and send him backwards like he’s on skates. It was the twist that causes his hesitation and confusion, making it easy for a player 70 pounds lighter to overpower him like that.
Just to further the point of how poorly Adams has played, we look at the offensive tackle rankings from ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required), and they have Adams ranked 69th out of 72 total tackles graded. Just take a moment and let that sink in. There have only been three tackles who have graded out lower.
Even his teammate, Marcus Gilbert, who hasn't played well is ranked 22nd on the same list. That's a huge difference.
What should happen in the short term? Adams should be benched and assuming he is available, Kelvin Beachum should start at left tackle. Adams can work in as depth, but there is no justification for having him on the field unless it's an emergency.
For next year, the Steelers must pursue a viable left tackle either via free agency or the draft. Adams doesn't look like a player committed to getting better and focused on helping this team win. There is no room on this roster for players who aren't ready to step up and play big. It is time to cut bait and move forward with improving the offensive line.