If you’re a citizen of Steelers Nation, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that the Steelers preseason victory over the Packers came at the cost of Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey broke his ankle and will require surgery. The only question now is whether Pounecy will miss the whole season, or most of it.
With that in mind, Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter Chris Adamski posted this rather ominous looking Tweet.
Since Maurkice Pouncey entered the NFL-
Steelers when he plays majority of a game: 42-21
Steelers when he doesn't play/leaves early: 10-12
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) August 24, 2015
The numbers speak for themselves. The statistics geeks at Pro Football Focus and similar sites may argue that he’s overrated, but clearly Maurkice Pouncey’s been a difference maker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Pouncey is out of the picture and that only means one thing on a Mike Tomlin football team, “The next man up.” Or, “The Standard is the Standard” if you will. (Obviously.)
- In the case of the 2015 Steelers, the next man up is Cody Wallace.
The Steelers acquired Cody Wallace when Kevin Colbert when wire waiver shopping after the NFL’s mandatory cut down to 53 men in 2013 (he also picked up Antwon Blake, BTW.) Wallace however couldn’t be “the next man up” when David DeCastro plowed into Pouncey’s leg in the opening day fiasco vs. Tennessee. He was in street clothes.
Instead, the Steelers went to Fernando Velasco who found himself a street free agent after the self-same Tennessee Titans made him a salary cap casualty. Velasco started for the Steelers and did well, until the Steelers Thanksgiving Day loss to the Ravens, where he too would fall to a season-ending injury.
- Then it was to Cody Wallace’s turn to be “the next man up” taking his place in front of Ben Roethlisberger.
So just how have the Steelers done with when Cody Wallace starts? The answer is, not bad. With Wallace starting the final four games of 2013 at center, the Steelers finished 3-1.
Wallace’s first start was a rough one, as the Steelers lost to the Miami Dolphins in the snows of Heinz Field. But Wallace could hardly be labeled as a weak link in that game, as the entire Steelers roster from top to bottom put up subpar performances (except perhaps for Troy Polamalu.)
In Wallace’s next start the Steelers throttled the Bengals at Heinz Field and in the following week he started in the Steelers victory over Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Le’Veon Bell also rushed for his first 100 game in the victory over Green Bay. Wallace continued his starting streak as the Steelers defeated the Browns to close the season.
Wallace didn’t start any games at center in 2014, but he did start two at guard, where the Steelers went 1-1. With Ramon Foster injured, Wallace started for the Steelers vs. Carolina, in a game where the Steelers offensive line could only be described as “Scary good.” Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount combined for an astounding 245 yards. However, the Steelers didn’t fare as well in Cody Wallace’s final start of the season, which again came at guard in the Steelers embarrassing loss to Tampa.
The Steelers will miss Muarkice Pouncey who contributes to the team with his leadership both on and off the field in ways that go beyond his expert blocking. But as Mike Tomlin commands, “Injuries will not be an excuse.” Nor should they be because Cody Wallace is capable.