The Problem With The Problem

Mike Prisuta with some insight into the Steelers' rotation at offensive tackle.

As the saying goes, when you play three offensive tackles it means you don't have two.

Or something like that.

The Steelers' lack of confidence in and dwindling patience with the two tackles they started on Sunday night against Chicago was officially confirmed before the game was 15 minutes old.

They sent Kelvin Beachum into the game at right tackle instead of Marcus Gilbert with 2:01 remaining in the first quarter.

The next time they got the ball Beachum was at left tackle instead of Mike Adams.

Beachum replaced Gilbert again for the series that began 4:39 prior to halftime.

And this just in: Beachum has yet to be confused with Joe Thomas.

The rotation was necessary, Mike Tomlin maintained, because Gilbert and Adams "hadn't played well enough to justify otherwise."

That had become painfully obvious to anyone who has seen the Steelers play this season.

But apparently actually playing for the Steelers clouds perspective when it comes to the tackle position and all it currently lacks.

"It wasn't, like, you know, a shot at us," Gilbert maintained minutes after Tomlin had announced that the rotation had been exactly that. "We're fine with it.

"Mike had a solid game. I had a solid game. The whole front had a solid game."

And there you have it.

Adams, likewise, took no offense at being called out on national TV.

"That's what coach wanted to do," Adams said. "He put a challenge up to all of us. That's what he wanted to do and that's how it went.

"I thought it was fine. You gotta go out and execute when you're out there and that's that."

You'd have thought at least one of these guys would have seethed at such treatment, quietly or otherwise.

You'd have hoped both of them would have at least vowed never to allow such an unprecedented and borderline-desperate attempt at stumbling upon a combination that will at long last unlock the offense's potential to ever enter the coaching staff's heads again.

A little accountability would have gone a long way right about then.

Maybe next time.

"We're going to look at viable guys," Tomlin continued. "We're going to turn the stones over in an effort to find a winning formula and we're not going to be bashful about that."

The problem is what it has been all along, what it would have been even if Maurkice Pouncey hadn't been injured.

Gilbert, Adams and guards Ramon Foster and David DeCastro are capable but they're not consistent. The Bears game was the latest frustrating example.

At times the running game hummed but at other times it degenerated into negative plays.

And at times the protection was there but too often it wasn't. Too often the Bears came clean, not because they overwhelmed the Steelers with numbers on the pass rush but because the Steelers didn't recognize or didn't communicate or didn't execute.

The offensive line is still playing as if it's training camp.

That explains, in part, why it's being handled as it would be in the preseason in games that actually matter.

"We feel like our fans deserve better, a lot better than what we're giving them," Gilbert said.

He got that part right, at least.


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