A Reason for Pouncey’s Poor Play?

PounceyThe last thing the Pittsburgh Steelers needed heading into their final preseason game was more drama. While I’m not sure to what extent the drama will be surrounding Maurkice Pouncey being tied to an Aaron Hernandez crime just yet, there is still nothing positive about it period.

I really wanted to be writing about other things right now, but the fact that Maurkice and his brother, Miami Dolphins’ lineman Mike Pouncey, had their names tied to Hernandez yet again was too much to pass up.

An article in Rolling Stone magazine about the demise of Aaron Hernandez came out today and in it, the piece discusses that former Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer had “assigned” the Pouncey Brothers to monitor Hernandez as much as possible. Even Tim Tebow was given this task as well.

According to Rolling Stone, there was one particular incident in which the Pouncey Brothers were a vehicle with Hernandez and chased down a car. Allegedly someone had tried to take a necklace. Someone from their car fired into the other and the description of the gunman suited Hernandez to a tee.

You’ll note that in this and other known incidents where the Pouncey Brothers are in the presence of Hernandez that neither Maurkice nor Mike have done anything illegal. What they are guilty of is being in bad company and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While this isn’t a crime, it doesn’t look good either.

The just before the start of training camp, the Pouncey Brothers were photographed wearing hats that said. “Free Hernandez.” This was just after Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder.

At a point where Maurkice Pouncey should have been distancing himself from Aaron Hernandez in every way possible, he jumped back in the car with him so to speak by wearing the hat and looking foolish.

Perhaps it is no surprise that Pouncey has not played well in the first three preseason games so far. Is it possible he knew this was going to come out? Has it been weighing on his mind? He’s been beaten by some pretty average defensive linemen and that won’t work for an already troubled offensive line.

As one of my readers pointed out today, Pouncey better be ready to answer some questions from the media and very few if any will be about football.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.

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9 comments on “A Reason for Pouncey’s Poor Play?

  1. If they did nothing illegal according to your article why is this such a major deal? And as to the reason Pouncey has not played well, it is hard to believe that for the past 3 weeks this is the only thing that is occupying his mind. Seems like the entire line has played like crap. Regressed since last year.

    • As you know Ron, just because you haven’t done something wrong legally, doesn’t mean you haven’t done something wrong morally or ethically. I wrote the piece because I felt it said two things. 1. Are the Steelers really doing their homework when drafting players? and 2. I saw a link between his poor play and the fact that he’s had to deal with not only this but the decision to wear the hat prior to camp. My hope is that he will mature and focus on football.

  2. This: “Urban Meyer had ‘assigned’ the Pouncey Brothers to monitor Hernandez” sufficiently explains the Pounceys involvement with Aaron. That, and they were on the same O-Line together. Both of these causes created a circumstance where they were woven together. So I do not see the sinister motive you do in why they would support him, or wear that silly hat or all of the rest of it. I expect Maurkice to have a good season and put the silliness behind him. And like you, I expect that “he will mature and focus on football”. I am very glad that he is wearing a Steeler jersey. A shade better than Justin Hartwig, no?

    • I get your point Jim, but if the Pounceys were ‘assigned’ to him, then why let him go ‘clubbing’ and find more trouble? If Meyer and the Pounceys truly wanted to do what was best for him they wouldn’t have been enabling him. I will continue to hope that Maurkice learns some valuable lessons and this helps him to grow as a person and player.

  3. SteelDad, this is a well-written and thoughtful piece.

    As a Steeler fan, I want nothing more than for Maurkice Pouncey and the Steelers to succeed.

    It’s not for me to judge the man, but … Maurkice Pouncey has brought this sort of scrutiny upon himself. He hasn’t played very well, for one thing. Now, in the wake of the “Free Hernandez” photo, we get this report, and it makes you wonder what’s going on with him. And if it wasn’t for his association with Hernandez, we would have shrugged off and forgotten all about Pouncey providing a “character” reference for Chris Rainey. If the Rolling Stone report has any credibility, it appears that Pouncey put himself in questionable situations (at best) with Aaron Hernandez.

    Again, it’s fair to wonder what’s going on with him off-field, and he’s brought this scrutiny upon himself.

    On the field, Pouncey’s play the past two seasons just hasn’t been all that great– when he’s been healthy enough to get on the field. Just because he made the Pro Bowl his rookie season and helped to anchor a shaky offensive line on a team that went to the Super Bowl doesn’t mean he should get a free pass forever.

    Pouncey is no Dermontti Dawson, that’s for sure.

    Pro Football Focus — and I usually dismiss these sorts of ratings,but still — Pro Football Focus has Maurkice Pouncey rated as the 25th-best center in the NFL. That’s probably not accurate, but based on his play the past two seasons, he’s almost certainly not in the top 10. As a Steeler fan, I am concerned.

    • Appreciate the fine comments Bern… I really can’t add much to what you’ve said. Spot on with everything… I too take PFF with a grain of salt sometimes but I find they are accurate at times too. Bottom line is that Pouncey has regressed in my opinion. Needs to get back to using his quickness and leverage with bigger DTs/NTs.

  4. I don’t think Pouncey playing poorly is anything new.

    He played like crap for most of last season. The fact that he was a pro bowler shows us it’s just a popularity contest. He’s been pushed around ever since his rookie season.

    I suspect we see Beachum playing some center this season either due to injury or necessity.

  5. It seems far-fetched, and I hate to even think about this. let alone pose the question, but is there any possibility — any at all — that there may be more to come out of the Hernandez case? Could Pouncey be called as some sort of witness, and wouldn’t that be a distraction? Is that even a remote possibility? Is it possible the coaches are concerned about that?

    Probably there’s nothing to it, but it seems curious that, just days before the start of the regular season, the Steelers signed Cody Wallace — “a true center,” according to Mike Tomlin.

    Probably the signing of Cody Wallace is simply a matter of him being a better football player (who happens to have been cut by four teams already) than John Malecki. That’s probably all there is to it. Yet, with Malecki, there was the possibility of “positional flexibility.” Not so with Wallace. It’s just curious (two centers of eight offensive linemen).

    What sorts of discussions are happening behind closed doors in the coaches’ meetings?

    Are the Steelers’ coaches concerned about Pouncey’s (a) ability to stay healthy through a full season; (b) his quality of play at center — maybe they view him, ultimately, as a better fit at guard, a position he’s played previously?; or (c) is there some other issue we don’t know about?

    One might argue the Steelers may well have done better to sign a true tackle instead of a pure center. Mike Tomlin seems to like Guy Whimper, though, and seems to feel comfortable with Whimper and Kelvin Beachum as backups at tackle. Both of those guys do offer some positional flexibility.

    Then again, if either (or both) of the starting tackles falter, conceivably Wallace could play center, Pouncey could move to guard, and Foster and/or Beachum could go to tackle? It sounds far-fetched, but stranger things have happened..

    Maybe the real area of concern is tackle, not center, and the signing of Wallace is meant (in a roundabout way) to fortify the offensive line in case Adams and Gilbert flop. If both Adams and Gilbert flop, though, the Steelers would definitely have problems, and they would be formidable.

    • Bern, there is no doubt in my mind the real area of concern for this line is the tackles. It’s the overwhelming reason I have predicted 8-8 for the season record. I have zero faith in their pass blocking ability and even less in their ability to stay healthy.

      As far as Pouncey goes, I think this is a classic case of fans forgetting these players are also human beings. I have no idea if what has gone on with Hernandez has been on the mind of Pouncey through camp, but how could it not to some degree? He was in a vehicle with AH at the time of one of his alleged shootings. I’m guessing there must be some concern and worry there. Great point about being called to testify. I think there is a great possibility of that and I know it would bother me.

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