If they didn’t know before, they definitely do now.
The Steelers’ offense line was, to be blunt, abysmal Saturday night in Jacksonville during Pittsburgh’s 16-15 preseason win over the Jaguars.
On Monday, Mike Tomlin made sure to tell them all about it.
“Not good. Not good at all,” said left guard Kendrick Green. “Coach (Tomlin) kind of put us up on the board — me specifically — a lot in front of the team meeting. That never feels good.
“Got to be better. Me individually, and us has a whole.”
Green was really subpar, but was far from alone. The Steelers frequently let the Jacksonville pass rush into the backfield, allowing a sack, four quarterback hits, and regular pressure. The group also produced just 24 rushing yards on 14 attempts.
"Bad play (from) the offensive line, everywhere,” right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor said. “It was someone every play. Technique. There is someone every play that isn't using what coach showed us."
“(We) miscommunicated on a few plays,” Green added. “That comes with playing next to different guys, even with the (second and third strings), as well. And then also just getting beat, flat out, man to a man.”
It’s not like the Steelers were blindsided by Jacksonville’s blossoming pass rush, even if they didn’t dedicate a full week to studying it.
“We didn’t game plan on them too much, but one of the things coach (Tomlin) did point out is that they have some pass rushers, they have some strong guys that can push the pocket,” Green said. “That’s what the challenge was, and we didn’t meet the expectations.”
Still, the Steelers won the game. But the mood Monday in the locker room was far from victorious.
"The peaks and valleys of this league are so high and low, you have no other choice than to bounce back,” center Mason Cole said.
Green, who was by far the most upbeat of the five offensive linemen who spoke Monday, feels the same.
“I try to have unwavering confidence, try to weather the storm a little bit,” he said. “I try not to get too high, not to get too low.”
But the tape wasn’t pretty, and Green gave a small — and rare — glimpse into Mike Tomlin example-making behind the scenes.
“He’s not cussing you out,” Green said. “He’s like, this is what you are. This is what you put on film. And it’s fair.”
“The natural reaction, the comfortable position, is that you want to get in the fetus position. Like, ah, don’t look at me. But you’ve got to own it. You put it on film. It’s more than the people in our room watching it. There’s 31 other teams watching, as well. They’re going to try to hone in on the same thing.”
Green, who started at center last year and was frequently overpowered or out-finessed by defensive tackles, continually lost battles Saturday night, particularly to Jaguars defensive tackle Arden Key, who had a sack and a pair of quarterback hits.
“I got beat a few times,” Green said, with a laugh. “He beat me a few times. He was having a day with me.”
The Steelers will use this week to, once again, try to fix an offensive line that had shown signs of progress in the preseason opener against Seattle, but appeared to take a giant step back Saturday.
Less than three weeks from the start of the 2022 regular season, time is of the essence.
“Coach (Tomlin) challenged us,” Green said. “(Offensive line coach Pat Meyer)challenged us. We’re going to go out and get to work, that’s for certain.”