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ESPN analyst Booger McFarland flat-out called the Steelers' offensive line "soft" last year following their Week 14 loss to the Bills. And he brought up this point again in a recent segment on Get Up but said the Steelers' offensive line that will feature new starters at all five positions, can't be any worse than last year's unit.
"I'm gonna give the (Steelers) the benefit of the doubt that they're closer to the team that was 11-0 (last year) because I think the offensive line can't be any worse," McFarland said. "You know, they got mad at me last year in Pittsburgh when I called the offensive line soft. But if you turn the tape on, the offensive line was soft."
McFarland basically echoed what Mike Tomlin said on Thursday when he was asked about the young offensive line.
"We don't have a bar set real high. We were last in the league in rushing, so we've got nowhere to go but up from certain aspects of that. It's not something that we fear," Tomlin said.
"We're working. We got capable guys. There's an expectation here that those guys are going to deliver to be quite honest with you. I'm not going be surprised when they do. As a matter of fact, we expect them to. And so, you can write a rags to riches tale, if you so choose, like, we're starting at ground zero in the basement, if you will. But we don't see it that way. And we definitely don't expect those results to be elementary."
Adrian Klemm was promoted to offensive line coach this offseason after the Steelers decided to not renew Shaun Sarrett's contract. Klemm's No. 1 priority is to help fix the Steelers' ailing run game, which ranked dead last in the league last year, averaging just 84.4 yards per game, which was their lowest average in a season since 1966.
It's been talked about all offseason that Klemm is implementing an aggressive mentality to the offensive line, and is requiring strictly three-point stances, which should help the linemen be more physical and not "soft" like last year as McFarland described them. With how old and tired the offensive line looked late in the season last year, and the running game being so awful. The Steelers' offensive line really doesn't have anywhere to go but up in 2021. I just can't imagine it being any worse, as McFarland mentioned.
The only way I can see it being worse is if Ben Roethlisberger took more hits and sacks, and suffered a season-ending injury. However, when it comes to the running game last year, that was rock bottom. It would be hard to fathom the Steelers averaging below 84.4 yards rushing per game in 2021, especially with Najee Harris now in the backfield.