The Pittsburgh Steelers have been playing good of late increasing their record to 4-1 after their close win against the Jaguars. They are atop the surprisingly disappointing AFC North and look to be on pace for a playoff season once again.
But not many thought that the Steelers would ge thsi far with as many injuries that they have only five weeks into the season. Numerous problems in the backfield and some big problems up front have caused the Steelers to cut games closer than they would like to have.
Lets start with the offensive line. The loss of Pittsburgh veteran Alan Faneca was a huge one considering the amount of Pro Bowls he has been to in his great career. He was the major part of the Steelers blocking strategy for many years and the Steelers had to rework their protection scheme once he left.
The offensive line began the year doing fine until week three against the Eagles. They allowed 9 sacks from the Philadelphia defense thus injuring Ben Roethlsiberger in a few places. This is when most problems arose.
With the experience of Faneca gone, the newer offensive playesr had learn and grow from some other lineman that do not have quite Faneca's experience. Players like Kendall Simmons and Marvel Smith.
Then in a Monday Night game against the Ravens, Kendall Simmons suffered a season ending injury which opened up a spot on the line. Surprisingly enough, this was about the time that Ben stopped getting sacked so many times. Maybe it was Simmons who could not block well enough to keep Roethlisberger off his back. I don't know but it sure seems like it.
Everyone knows that if your offensive line is not doing good then your running game will struggle as well. This is completely true for the Steelers. With Willie Parker sidelined with an injury, Rashard Mendenhall was his replacement for the Ravens game. He then suffered a season ending knee injury that will require surgery.
Not only was Mendenhall hurt, but the starting fullback and third string running back, Carey Davis, also got injured in that same game. This took the Steelers down to just Mewelde Moore, a once backup for the Minnesota Vikings.
With not a whole lot of experience starting in the NFL, Moore did extremely well in the last two games Pittsburgh has played. He did not play the entire Monday night game but did rush for 99 yards against the jaguars.
For this past Sunday's game, The Steelers brought up Gary Russell from the practice squad and Najeh Davenport, the former Steeler from free agency.These acquisitions helped out greatly in the Steelers victory over Jacksonville.
Luckily for Pittsburgh fans, this week is a bye so it should give the running backs and starters enough rest time to be able to come back and play next week.
Every game is crucial and it really helps if your starters are healthy and able to play.