Starting offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor landed on the hot seat after he said that the Steelers should have taken a knee for their final few possessions as opposed to running redundant rushing plays. He will stay on that hot seat for the foreseeable future.
What Prompted Okorafor to Speak Out Against Steelers’ Coaching?
The Steelers were down 20-10 from the 9:19 mark of the fourth quarter with the game growing out of reach. Okorafor was unsettled with the lack of variety to Mike Tomlin and Matt Canada’s play-calling throughout. As a result, Tomlin opted to bench Okorafor for the remainder of the game.
Going out on his shield was no longer of interest to Okorafor. However, his alleged comments had more substance than a proverbial throw-in of the towel. Okorafor was clearly upset with having to block for designed plays that he felt were yielding nothing in return.
The proof is in the pudding. Jaylen Warren going for a team-high 19 rushing yards on 5 carries. Backup QB Mitchell Trubisky out-rushing Najee Harris. No rushing touchdowns on the affair. The Steelers could barely buy a 1st down on the ground and their offense put up an underwhelming performance as a whole.
Okorafor’s Sentiments Did Not Age Gracefully
Okorafor’s comments looked outdated after Warren and Harris combined for 166 rushing yards in a dominant performance over the Tennessee Titans. It appears to be an added reason why LT Broderick Jones is threatening his spot at RT for the remainder of the season.
As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette relayed, Okorafor had this to say to the media regarding his relegation to the sidelines, and how he intends to remedy it:
“Right now I’m taking it day by day,” Okorafor said. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in three weeks or next year. Next year us next year. I’m still trying to figure out how to get back out there.”
Okorafor saw one snap against the Titans. Further, he will ride the pine in their upcoming matchup against the Green Bay Packers. His attitude at least points in the right direction as he is eager to return to the field and help the offense further their progress.
Is There Any Chance Okorafor Rebounds From His Words?
Coach Tomlin’s gladiatorial persona is fundamentally against any form of quitting. Okorafor likely meant to send a message in a not-so-literal sense, but either way you slice it, Tomlin was angered by it, even if his response to the media was reserved.
Okorafor has racked up 7 penalties on the year, tied for No. 7 at his position. Pro Football Focus has given him a 60.4 pass blocking player grade behind 2 sacks and 11 pressures allowed.
It remains to be seen how Jones and the rest of the O-Line protect Kenny Pickett against the Packers. Should they struggle, Okorafor could find his way back to his starting role. Assuming the opposite takes place, he’ll have a further uphill battle to climb.