The 2008 Steelers victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars was exciting and Steelers Nation rightly reveled in its glow. But such revelry should not extend so deeply to the media, which is what must have happened with Ron Cook.
Otherwise, there is no accounting for Cook’s praise of the Steelers pass protection:
Stapleton, little-used tackle Trai Essex — in for Smith (cramps) in the fourth quarter — and their oft-criticized pals on the offensive line kept quarterback Ben Roethlisberger relatively clean, allowing three sacks.
Did we watch the same game?
- Is there something in Cook’s Kool Aid?
It’s true that the Steelers offensive line did provide quality protection to Ben for extended periods of the game. There were also periods where the pocket was non-existent, and three sacks a game might not sound like much, but it works out to 48 in a season, which is WAY too high.
And if the sack number was low, then the knock down and hit number was way, way too high.
Darnell Stapleton did do a good job, but Trai Essex? As soon as he went in the game Jacksonville’s outside linebacker (or perhaps it was a DE) made bee-line right for Ben, blowing past Essex.
Ben is certainly one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league. Heck, Al Michaels and John Madden both joked that he, and not Robert Downey Jr., should be cast to play Iron Man in the sequel. That’s because he took a tremendous amount of punishment against the Jaguars.
Steelers fans can be thankful for Ben’s toughness, and his ability to deliver under pressure.
But the Steelers need to protect Ben better, and they need to start doing it now, because at some point all of this punishment is going to start taking its toll.