Pittsburgh Steelers: Dropping Kemoeatu Reflects the Change in Offensive Identity

Cian FaheyFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Doug Legursky #64 of the Pittsburgh Steelers prepares to hike the ball against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers will start another new offensive line combination this weekend, according to this report, however this time, there is no injury news to report with it.

Doug Legursky is fully healthy and available for the Steelers coming out of the bye week. The backup center is set to take over from long-term left guard Chris Kemoeatu as the team visits Kansas City this Sunday night.

Kemoeatu has been the one certainty (when healthy) of the team's guards as the revolving door at RG (which started spinning in the preseason) has thrown the coaching staff back to where they began.

Ramon Foster has reestablished himself, although I'm still trying to figure out why he was dropped in the first place, with his solid showings this season in both pass protection and as a run blocker.

Foster watched as a plethora of teammates rotated in and out of his spot this year. Marcus Gilbert was the first name to be thrown into the right guard mix. Others talked about possibly moving Willie Colon to guard and re-signing Flozell Adams.

Second-year pro Chris Scott was eventually chosen as the leadoff batter in the preseason before quickly striking out. Tony Hills was on deck and impressed in preseason play, but still found his way to the Denver Broncos somehow.

Doug Legursky barely played a down at guard during the preseason but somehow started the first three games of the season at RG. Then, the man that Foster originally replaced, Trai Essex, was signed into the season and became another option for the team.

Eventually Foster, the former Tennessee tackle, found his way back into the lineup and has solidified the position.

Therefore, as soon as someone mentioned another lineup change upfront, the obvious thought was to think that Foster would be returning to a backup role.

That said, it wasn't much of a surprise that Kemoeatu was the one on his way to the bench. Kemoeatu is considered by many (most live outside of Pittsburgh and rarely watch the Steelers seemingly) as the team's best lineman.

While that assessment is some way off, the reasoning for it is that he was once a staple of the Steelers' running game. A running game that the Steelers heavily relied on.

Kemoeatu excels at blowing open holes and is one of the best pulling guards in the league. However his inability to protect the passer, not to mention his tendency for irrational decisions and costly penalties, make him less effective in the Steelers' new offense.

The Steelers' new offensive identity doesn't rely on the run any longer. Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore have made way to Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and Mike Wallace as the focal point of the Steelers' offense.

With the running game now a complementary part of the Steelers' game plan, Kemoeatu's value dwindles dramatically.

While Doug Legursky is also a better run blocker than pass protector, he does offer a more well-rounded overall game without the irrational decisions and penalties. Legursky isn't very big and is susceptible to bull rushes from opposing blitzers.

He does have more agile feet however and plays with a better base to work in space.

The Steelers whole line is much smaller than it was even last year. The slimline version of Max Starks is smaller, and a much better pass protector than Johnathan Scott. Ramon Foster, as a former collegiate tackle, is not a big guard while rookie Marcus Gilbert is very agile and quick unlike Flozell Adams from last season.

All this should result in better pass protection for Ben Roethlisberger as his attempts increase with the Steelers' newfound weapons on the outside.

Sacrificing some quality in the running game is worth it when you have explosive players on the outside who can rip off huge gains on a regular basis.

For as much flack that Bruce Arians generally receives, he doesn't get everything wrong. There is a reason why Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger talked him out of retirement last year.

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