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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Panic Button: Steelers offensive line


Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Problem: The Pittsburgh Steelers have allowed 12 sacks of starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in three games this season, which includes a season-high eight last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Roethlisberger, as a result, already has shoulder and hand ailments less than a month into the season.

Time to hit the panic button: Yes

Solution: There is no easy solution in this case, but the Steelers need to come up with an answer fast if they expect Roethlisberger to play the full 16-game schedule. Pittsburgh has given up 93 quarterback sacks of Roethlisberger in the past two seasons, so this is a quandary that has puzzled the Steelers for quite some time. But the most obvious question is if Pittsburgh has the personnel to get the job done? Losing Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca hurt some, but Faneca also struggled in the passing game. It's been a problem in recent years that has spread across the entire offensive line. Some of the blame also can be put on the tight ends and the running backs. With a wealth of talented skill players at its disposal, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians may want to explore keeping seven players in to protect more often, running more screens and perhaps shorter passes to take some of the pressure off Roethlisberger and the offensive line. Even Roethlisberger has the tendency to hold onto the ball a second or two too long at times in an attempt to make a big play downfield, and he's taking a beating for it.