Alejandro Villanueva discusses what made Steelers’ 2020 season ‘extremely difficult’, becoming a member of rival Ravens

Alejandro Villanueva has no qualms about becoming a member of the Ravens, the archrival of Villanueva’s former crew in Pittsburgh. Villanueva, who not too long ago inked a two-year deal with Baltimore, mentioned that he’s excited to be a part of a run-heavy offense after spending the previous six seasons with the pass-happy Steelers. 

A two-time Professional Bowl left deal with, Villanueva opened up about his challenges throughout his last season with the Steelers. With the Steelers’ working assault just about nonexistent, the Steelers relied closely on the proper arm of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And whereas Pittsburgh began 11-0, its lack of steadiness contributed to the crew’s 1-5 end and first-round playoff exit. 

“For us as an offensive line in Pittsburgh final yr, it was extremely difficult that we knew that we needed to go along with these sport plans that concerned passing the ball doubtlessly your entire sport,” Villanueva mentioned throughout Wednesday’s digital media press convention. “The mentality when you’ve gotten a balanced offense, or if you run the ball, it is clearly higher for an offensive line. I am assuming it is not as enjoyable for the extensive receivers as a result of they don’t seem to be getting all of the catches. They’re making their TikToks, they usually’re having enjoyable on social media. However for an offensive lineman, it is undoubtedly an superior expertise.”

Villanueva defined the numerous drawback he and his fellow Pittsburgh offensive linemen confronted final season. 

“When you need to go the ball, particularly such as you needed to do final yr, it includes an unimaginable quantity of stress,” he mentioned. “As a result of you realize the go rushers can get right into a rhythm. You are going towards Myles Garrett, and he will get 10, 15 passes in a row to arrange strikes, to have the ability to assault each single angle of your physique, attempt completely different strikes. He has 50 to 60 snaps to attempt all the things  that he needs to do on you. So it turns into very irritating.” 

Whereas his last season in Pittsburgh wasn’t a picnic, Villanueva spoke extremely a few franchise that gave him an opportunity seven years in the past. A former United States Military Ranger, Villanueva joined the Steelers’ observe squad in 2014. After making the 53-man roster in 2015, Villanueva changed injured starter Kelvin Beachum in Week 6. He remained within the Steelers’ beginning lineup via the 2020 season. Villanueva’s 91 consecutive begins throughout that span had been probably the most by any Pittsburgh participant. 

“Pittsburgh has all the time been a class-act group,” Villanueva mentioned, “they usually let me know that I used to be not coming again to the crew very shortly after the season.”

Villanueva mentioned that the prospect of taking part in the Steelers (not less than) twice a yr was a part of his motivation with signing with the Ravens. He’s additionally excited to dam for former league MVP Lamar Jackson

“There are specific gamers within the NFL that actually encourage you to get the very best out of you since you see how uncommon the expertise is,” Villanueva mentioned. “I felt that after I was taking part in with Le’Veon Bell. You all the time felt energized as an offensive lineman to proceed to present your greatest for that participant. I do not assume there is a doubt in anybody’s thoughts that if you watch Lamar Jackson play, you need to do all the things for him, defend him and proceed to see the magic that he shows on the sphere. 

“Not solely does it make the sport of soccer extremely enjoyable for the followers and for everyone on the market, but it surely additionally helps you to win numerous soccer video games.” 

A left deal with in Pittsburgh, Villanueva is slated to be the Ravens’ proper deal with in 2021. Villanueva might be flanked on Baltimore’s beginning offensive line by left deal with Ronnie Stanley, left guard Bradley Bozeman, middle Patrick Mekari, and proper guard Kevin Zeitler. The unit will look to supply sturdy safety for Jackson and clear working lanes for working backs J.Ok. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill

Villanueva opened up about how his authentic purpose within the NFL was to play one season with a purpose to pay for enterprise college. Not solely did Villanueva’s NFL profession take off, he was in a position to get his MBA from Carnegie Mellon in 2019. He’s now hoping to cap off his profession with a championship, one thing that eluded him throughout his time in Pittsburgh. 

“Had there been one other conflict or one other battle, I most likely would have by no means gotten out of the army,” Villanueva mentioned. “I needed to make the transition into the civilian world, which is a really, very tough transition. It is discovering a brand new id. It is discovering who you’re. It is discovering your passions and your goal, which isn’t simple to do if you’re 24 years previous and the one factor you realize is the army. 

“I believed, if I performed one yr within the NFL, even when I simply fooled a number of the coaches who’re infatuated with the army, that I might be capable to pay for enterprise college. My purpose in Pittsburgh was to play one yr and get out and go to enterprise college at one of many prime packages and transfer on with my life. I used to be in a position to do each.” 


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