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stillers4me
12-30-2008, 06:14 AM
A return to the running game gives Steelers reason to cheer
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A conversation between two Steelers tackles in the locker room Sunday on the topic of their sudden return to the I-formation, the ground game and the productivity that went with it:

Max Starks: "It felt good."

Willie Colon: "It felt darn good."

Even defensive linemen like Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel enjoyed it.

"It was great!" Keisel said. "I was telling Aaron and Hamp on the bench, 'It's wonderful to sit here with you guys, to laugh and joke and watch those guys run the ball.'

"It was great to see Willie going again. I knew when he came in, he was ready to rock and roll."

Willie Parker planted the seed on Dec. 10 when he publicly complained about a lack of commitment to both the ground game and the use of a fullback. Sunday, the Steelers used fullback Sean McHugh in the I formation like never before this season. It produced Parker's second-best output of the season at 116 yards, the team's second-most rushing yards at 176 and three rushing touchdowns.

Most important, Sunday's performance on the ground in a 31-0 whipping of the Cleveland Browns might have sown more seeds for their playoff strategy on offense.

"Oh, yeah, that's something we're definitely going to have to utilize in the playoffs," said linebacker James Farrior, the defensive captain. "Everybody knows that in this locker room."

The drop-off in the ground game left the Steelers ranked 23rd in the NFL, their second lowest since they joined the AFC as part of the NFL merger in 1970. Parker stewed much of the season about what he felt was a lack of commitment to the running game, and the two-time Pro Bowl halfback took a public rebuke from coach Mike Tomlin when he spoke up three weeks ago.

Tomlin, though, told his team last Monday that they would "pound the ball" against the Browns, to the delight of most everyone.

"I feel we were able to line up and run the football at them," center Justin Hartwig said of Sunday's game. "That's what we talked about doing. We have to be able to do that no matter who we play against. It's a big positive for us pushing into playoffs."

It was evident that Parker was a mere spokesman for others who felt the same way when he bemoaned the lack of what he termed "Steelers football" that day.

"Hopefully the coaches will keep that in mind for the playoffs," Starks said. "We can run out of the I. Sure, it makes it more one-dimensional in some aspects, but it's successful."

The defense loves it because when it works, as it has so often for the Steelers through the years, and the drives are long, it keeps them off the field.

The question now is, can they return to the type of offense that effectively runs behind the I formation in the playoffs against defenses that will pose more problems than Cleveland's, which finished 28th in the league against the run?

"I guess they felt that's something we have to do and something we're going to need in the future, so we might as well start practicing it now," Farrior said.

Parker was as delighted as anyone and showed it when he fired the ball deep into the stands after his 34-yard touchdown run against the Browns.

"I love the I formation, I love the plays that were called," Parker said. "I knew we were going to pound the ball so you know I definitely love that, being a running back.

"Coach Tomlin told us Monday we were going to pound the football, and that's what we've been practicing all week, running the football. Just keep running, keep running and that's what we did, we just kept running it down their throat."

Among the run defenses the Steelers could see if they want to reach the Super Bowl are the best in the AFC: No. 2 Baltimore (behind the No. 1 Steelers) No. 3 Tennessee, No. 5 Miami and No. 6 San Diego.

"Will we know if Willie's words paid off or not?" Starks asked. "We'll see in the playoffs because that's what's going to matter and that's crunch time. Hopefully after [Sunday], Coach will feel a lot more confident puling the trigger in there."

Said Parker: "No matter what we do we can run the football. It's just a matter of doing it."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08365/938441-66.stm


Well, looky there. The players execute when the right plays are called.

What the hell took so long? :banging:

vasteeler
12-30-2008, 10:08 AM
it was against the stains:coffee:

devilsdancefloor
12-30-2008, 10:32 AM
:yap: :yap: :yap: :yawn: :yawn:

fansince'76
12-30-2008, 10:34 AM
:yap: :yap: :yap: :yawn: :yawn:

What, you didn't see that one coming? But I agree.

Dino 6 Rings
12-30-2008, 10:39 AM
Its obvious that since Kuhn left this team we just haven't been the same running the ball.

McHugh may be Kuhn's long lost brother or something however...he did a great job attempting to fill those Kuhn sized shoes.

Pi Kapp Steeler
12-30-2008, 12:56 PM
Its soo frustrating seeing willie run without a FB. Its so text book. A Fullback usually isolates a Inside Linebacker to free up some space in the middle. Something that a smaller backs like Willie and Moore need. Even if the FB doesnt put a body on some one the , he is still in the way of the defender!!! OMG thats brilliant!!!:drink:

Bruce Arians , I am begging you. For your own sake and for the teams sake, bring back the Fullback!!!!!!!

lilyoder6
12-30-2008, 01:08 PM
even if it was the brows.. u need 2 take baby steps..

Kvnfaber
12-30-2008, 04:04 PM
Yes please, make the fullback much more prominent in the playoffs. We are going to need to mix it up and show the opposing defense that they can't just key on Big Ben and our passing game.

I can't look too far into Willie's performance on Sunday, except for the fact that I'm sure it helped his confidence. Our OL is whats gonna decide if we go all the way or fail miserably in these playoffs. Simply average play from our OL will get the job done with our defense.

HometownGal
12-30-2008, 04:13 PM
even if it was the brows.. u need 2 take baby steps..


Huh? :doh: This is a team headed for the playoffs, lily!

Amazing what can happen when the OL finally gets their heads out of their asses and does its job. :thumbsup:

Willie Colon: "It felt darn good."


The TD that was nullified because of the stupid penalty you took (once again) didn't feel so "darn good". Time to get with the program Willie.

Edman
12-30-2008, 04:21 PM
It was the Browns. They suck.

I still feel we need to run Gary Russell more if we're going to use the fullback. He's our Power back.

SteelCityKing
12-30-2008, 04:42 PM
It was the Browns. They suck.

I still feel we need to run Gary Russell more if we're going to use the fullback. He's our Power back.

Russell, among a half dozen other players, are really great assests to the team. they could pose a great threat to ANY opposing team. too bad they are underused but they sure don't go unappreciated.

Sweed, Russell, Dixon, and a select few should slowly slip their way into our offensive playbook next year. gadget plays and tricks would be a great way to use these guys. -- are the Steelers going to resign Leftwich and let Batch go?

xbroughneck
12-30-2008, 04:45 PM
Hmmm....so it wasn't just some dumb fans that were unhappy with the line of Arian's play calling. Hmmm...even the players (and apparently the head coach), felt like the style of offense the Steelers were trying to push wouldn't fly with the better defenses in the league (even though we finished with 12 wins).


Hmmmm......


It doesn't take an offensive coordinator (who spends thousands of hours reviewing film) to know there is something wrong with how the Steelers offense was being run this year (AND last year regardless of the stats).

Good to see that some people want the Steelers to be just as physical on Offense as they are on defense.

HometownGal
12-30-2008, 05:18 PM
Here we go round the mulberry bush - - - again. :rolleyes: :popcorn:

Steelman16
12-30-2008, 11:42 PM
Here we go round the mulberry bush - - - again. :rolleyes: :popcorn:

Poor bush. It has to be sick of seeing people dance around it all the time. :rolleyes: :chuckle:

Steelers & I
12-31-2008, 12:35 AM
Nice read, "I Formation" was SPILLED ALL OVER THE ARTICLE! Reminded me of the MANY threads posted on this forum all season long. How many times did we see the alleged "Arians haters" calling for the I Formation and a lead blocking FB? Answer, nearly every day.

Haters? No, I wouldn't say so. I would say that the Arians bashers were merely venting their frustration, frustration induced by the absence of a lead blocking FB in the "I FORMATION".

Whatever the case may be, THANK YOU BRUCE ARIANS. You finally came to the realization that a lead blocking FB and the use of the I Formation was an absolute necessity in getting the Steelers running game back on track. :thumbsup: I just wish that you would have listened to us sooner. :chuckle:

Steelman16
12-31-2008, 01:08 AM
Nice read, "I Formation" was SPILLED ALL OVER THE ARTICLE! Reminded me of the MANY threads posted on this forum all season long. How many times did we see the alleged "Arians haters" calling for the I Formation and a lead blocking FB? Answer, nearly every day.

Haters? No, I wouldn't say so. I would say that the Arians bashers were merely venting their frustration, frustration induced by the absence of a lead blocking FB in the "I FORMATION".

Whatever the case may be, THANK YOU BRUCE ARIANS. You finally came to the realization that a lead blocking FB and the use of the I Formation was an absolute necessity in getting the Steelers running game back on track. :thumbsup: I just wish that you would have listened to us sooner. :chuckle:

This was just to appease the fans though before we fired him. He'll be back to spread ball soon enough. :chuckle:

Steelers & I
12-31-2008, 01:39 AM
This was just to appease the fans though before we fired him. He'll be back to spread ball soon enough. :chuckle:


Oh well, as long as we win I'll be happy. :tt03:

stillers4me
12-31-2008, 05:39 AM
Oh well, as long as we win I'll be happy. :tt03:

Yep.......just get us through the next 3 games. :drink:

And for the record, I'm not a hater. I just think this team can do better.....we need as good a general on the O side as we have the D side.