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mesaSteeler
05-29-2009, 08:49 PM
Could The Steelers Be In Interested In The 2nd Coming Of Mike Alstott?
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/187487-could-the-steelers-be-in-interested-in-the-2nd-coming-of-mike-alstott/show_full
by Jonathan Cyprowski (Scribe)

Every great team has something that defines them as a franchise. Not just a play for the ages, but something that is as repetitive as the heartbeat inside your chest.

Thump thump… thump thump… thump thump. Can you hear it? If you are in the city of Pittsburgh you can feel the pulse with every sound.

Put your ear against the Steel building and you will hear it. Stand on top of Mount Washington and you will hear the same sound that echoes through the empty Steel Mills that line the three rivers.

For the last 77 years the very life’s blood of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been the tough, physical nature with which they play the game. Perhaps the signature of that physical nature is a running game that has been the blunt instrument by which the Steelers have imposed their will for decades. It is that element of the game that brings the Steelers and their crowd to life and crushes the vitality of their opponents.

Over the course of the last year Pittsburgh has strayed away from some of the more signature formations and plays that made them infamous amongst defenses and their Coordinators in the NFL.

Admittedly, some of the shift occurred due to the decimation of the Steelers backfield early on in the 2008 Season.

Willie Parker’s nagging injuries kept him sidelined for most of the season. The absence of Parker combined with a season ending shoulder injury to first round draft choice Rashard Mendenhall quickly put the Steelers behind the eight ball. Forced to start third down back Mewelde Moore, the Steelers rushed for a little more than 1,600 yards (23rd in the NFL) in 2008.

Despite the injuries, much of the changeover has occurred because of a shift in offensive philosophy brought about by Coordinator Bruce Arians.

Take one look at the red-zone play calling and you will pick up on the trend that every defense on the Steelers’ schedule did last year.

Why is it that the Steelers seemed to be the most predictable offense in the league once they got inside the 20-yard line?

The Steelers forsook the power running game for the spread passing attack. The philosophy that goes along with the new playbook focuses on using three receiver sets and a wide open passing game in order to set up the run. So when a team passes the ball the majority of the time down the field it is absurd for them to think they can take the air out of the ball once they cross the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Not only does it kill the rhythm that has been established during the current drive, it also negates the momentum that has been built up as well.

Few teams had a harder time running the ball between the Tackles than the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. Call it lack of experience on the line, being forced to use the third down back as a starter or whatever else you can come up with, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was an ongoing problem for the offense.

Moore performed admirably in the role thrust upon him, but once you examine the formations in which a smallish Back like Moore was being utilized, and the questions start pouring in.

Going from the “I” formation, featuring a blocking Fullback and a bruising Tailback to a single back set in order to employ a more open offense has not worked all that well for the Steelers’ running game.

Most of the Steelers rushing production occurred outside the Tackles, and what couldn’t be mustered in the running game was substituted by quick screen-plays and swing passes to the sure handed Moore.

Once the team got in the red-zone the Steelers started to run the ball using stretch blocking schemes, draw plays and the use of a third Offensive Tackle on the line of scrimmage. These plays are predictable because of the limitations to the formation. When a third Tackle is employed it eliminates one of the skill position players on the field. Virtually eliminating a high percentage of offensive options.

This works if you are able to execute, but if you are going to be predictable, you are going to have to be dominant. There is no other way around it. Sure many successful Steelers teams of the past were very predictable, but they were also among the most dominant offenses in the league.

Since the retirement of Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh has not had a Back that can manage the goal-line. Parker finished the 2006 season with 13 touchdowns. Since then he has had seven total scores, and most of them have come on long runs of 20 yards or more.

In the absence of Parker and Mendenhall, Moore and practice squad promotion Gary Russell were able to score only eight rushing touchdowns all season.

So what is the common denominator in the decreased production of the running game since Parker’s double-digit touchdown year?

It’s really quite simple. Looking at the stats from 2006 until now, there is a direct correlation between the departure of Fullback Dan Kreider and the decline in rushing touchdowns. The lack of Fullback presence in the team’s playbook took an imperfect running game and put them at an even bigger disadvantage.

Jerome Bettis was a great back, a sure fire Hall of Famer. But, one thing even “the bus” never did without was a great Fullback. Whether it was Tim Lester or Dan Kreider, Bettis always had himself a bus driver.

Not only has the departure of Kreider and the elimination of the Fullback hurt Parker and his supporting cast in terms of production, it has also hurt them in terms of health. Parker has not played a full season since the offensive shift and obviously the rest of the team has felt the pain as well.

It is clear that the Steelers needed that dominant force back in the backfield this coming season, and they may have found their answer in the 5th round of the draft.

Frank Summers was nicknamed “the tank” at UNLV because of his dominant running style. At 5’9”/240, Summers is small only in terms of height, and is less than shy about seeking contact out of the backfield.

It is easy to see the resemblances between Summers and Bettis, but the comparison at this point has to stop at physical characteristics. Summers ran a 4.55 at his pro day (faster than Bettis’ 4.7). He also managed to bench press 30 reps at 225 lbs. and registered a vertical of 34 inches. All of which are above average, especially for a guy that wasn’t even invited to the combine.

With the return of fast Willie and Mendenhall the backfield seems crowded, and the Steelers want Summers to become the Fullback they so badly need.

Everything seems to be falling into place in order to reintroduce a new dimension of power running into the Steelers’ arsenal, but hold on just a minute. The Steelers are asking Summers to make a move that he refused to make in college. In fact, Summers turned down an opportunity to play for Pete Carroll at USC because he didn’t want to play Fullback.

If Summers makes the move to Fullback fans could see the second coming of a rare talent. Not that of Jerome Bettis, but of former Fullback hybrid Mike Alstott. The ability to bring a power running dimension to an offense while taking on the duties of clearing the way for small, speedy Backs like Parker could make him serviceable almost immediately on the NFL level.

It is going to take work to improve his blocking. However, the potential for Summers to come in and play a significant role in his rookie season is a definite possibility, and with that possibility comes the potential for Pittsburgh to solve it’s problems between the tackles and in goal-line situations.

The days of Dan Kreider firmly de-cleating Ray Lewis on an "Iso play" are gone, but they are not forgotten. With the addition of Frank Summers the Steelers coaching staff may very well be seeing visions of the "I" formation and the Fullback dive lighting up the score board at Heinz Field.

The Definiti0n
05-29-2009, 11:02 PM
Oh Laaawd.When does the season start.

fansince'76
05-29-2009, 11:32 PM
Oh Laaawd.When does the season start.

Just a little over a month until TC! :thumbsup:

steelwall
05-29-2009, 11:38 PM
I allways loved watching him run.....just pure power.

Godfather
05-30-2009, 12:47 AM
Oh Laaawd.When does the season start.

On Wednesday we'll be 99 days away.

KeiselPower99
05-30-2009, 01:34 AM
Alstott was the man.

Vincent
05-30-2009, 01:50 AM
That article, once again, sheds the light squarely on ariens and his refusal to use a fullback. I don't see Summers as a fullback, and its a waste of his talent to use him as one.

MasterOfPuppets
05-30-2009, 04:35 AM
That article, once again, sheds the light squarely on ariens and his refusal to use a fullback. I don't see Summers as a fullback, and its a waste of his talent to use him as one.i'm inclined to agree...i wanna see him get a 5 yd running start at the line WITH a fullback lead blocking ....:thumbsup:

Preacher
05-30-2009, 06:20 AM
Here we go again. I formation blah blah blah.

If only we had Kreider we could run over everyone blah blah blah.

Anyone take a look at our O line over the last couple years?

Anyone notice how we picked a guy that MAY be a Fullback ONLY when he is able to fulfill MULTIPLE roles on offense? Seems to me it does come to Arians. It is EXACTLY what Arians AND Tomlin said. The pure fullback is gone because it is a waste of a roster spot today. A fullback that can multitask... I think that is exactly what they were looking for. . . and now found it. I hope.

Does this mean I am not excited about seeing an I formation this year? Nope. I love the possiblity. I however, love the fact that we seem to have a kid that if he pans out, will be able to catch out of the backfield and be a threat as well.

Of course, all of this ASSUMES that our front line will be able to block for them. And that is a LARGE assumption.

GBMelBlount
05-30-2009, 06:44 AM
...when a team passes the ball the majority of the time down the field it is absurd for them to think they can take the air out of the ball once they cross the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Not only does it kill the rhythm that has been established during the current drive, it also negates the momentum that has been built up as well.

Few teams had a harder time running the ball between the Tackles than the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. Call it lack of experience on the line, being forced to use the third down back as a starter or whatever else you can come up with, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was an ongoing problem for the offense.

What about a simply flat out poor line?

It often makes little difference who is in the backfield If your line isn't getting it done in the trenches.

Galax Steeler
05-30-2009, 07:27 AM
I can't wait to see how they use Summers. I just hope he can make the team and contribute giving us those short goal line situations.

steelwall
05-30-2009, 07:34 AM
Here we go again. I formation blah blah blah.

If only we had Kreider we could run over everyone blah blah blah.

Anyone take a look at our O line over the last couple years?

Anyone notice how we picked a guy that MAY be a Fullback ONLY when he is able to fulfill MULTIPLE roles on offense? Seems to me it does come to Arians. It is EXACTLY what Arians AND Tomlin said. The pure fullback is gone because it is a waste of a roster spot today. A fullback that can multitask... I think that is exactly what they were looking for. . . and now found it. I hope.

Does this mean I am not excited about seeing an I formation this year? Nope. I love the possiblity. I however, love the fact that we seem to have a kid that if he pans out, will be able to catch out of the backfield and be a threat as well.

Of course, all of this ASSUMES that our front line will be able to block for them. And that is a LARGE assumption.

cant we just be all dreamy about the Alstott comparison??? If this guy is even a hair off the ass of MA.....we got something, and I think he's the whole bottom and then some.

TDLP
05-30-2009, 07:34 AM
If he carries on being unwilling to play fullback, which I think is unlikely, he's going to really limit his playing time. You've got to expect the Steelers to favour Mendenhall in short yardage situations.

steelwall
05-30-2009, 07:37 AM
If he carries on being unwilling to play fullback, which I think is unlikely, he's going to really limit his playing time. You've got to expect the Steelers to favour Mendenhall in short yardage situations.

What he 'should' bring is blocking, and then change when the D is keying on Mendenhall could be the running game that equals our passing game....then.....wtah out baby. I think his presence (if he shows alot in preseason) will be an advantage anytime he is on the feild......call me a kool aid drinker, but I'm sipping the sweet ale about now.

Galax Steeler
05-30-2009, 08:00 AM
If he carries on being unwilling to play fullback, which I think is unlikely, he's going to really limit his playing time. You've got to expect the Steelers to favour Mendenhall in short yardage situations.

That is probably true but if we have someone like Summers who is short and stocky and gets the burst to the line then who is going to stop him he will get that one or two yards that we need to get that first down. The man is always looking for someone to hit.

mmalone
05-30-2009, 09:04 AM
Alstott 40 - Byner 44 - now we have a FB Summers 44.... If frank can make the position and be a rookie sensation, he will neutralize all of the arians bashing. save BA's job, win number 7 for the team. help the OL . score at least 4 more points a game maybe 8 when we reach the red zone. we will be hard to beat.... its exciting..

TDLP
05-30-2009, 09:15 AM
That is probably true but if we have someone like Summers who is short and stocky and gets the burst to the line then who is going to stop him he will get that one or two yards that we need to get that first down. The man is always looking for someone to hit.

Yeah, I agree with you, Summers, on paper (because we don't know that he's going to have any sort of role at all this year, and he certainly isn't a lock to make the team) is better suited to the role, but Mendenhall needs something substantial to do as a second year #1 pick. I don't think he will take too many carries away from FWP, although he could be our third down back. Even so, there's still a very high chance Mendenhall will start the season as the short-yardage man.

LVSteelersfan
05-30-2009, 10:51 AM
Frank the Tank from UNLV, my alma mater. UNLV hasn't put too many stars in the NBA (Randall Cunningham, Icky Woods) but I think the Steelers may have found a diamond in the rough on this one. If Kemo can get his act together and Urbik can supplant Stapleton, we might have enough road graders out there to get a running game going with Mendy and the Tank back there. FWP is ok but is not my favorite player by any means. He does not cut back well enough to be slammed up the middle play after play after play. We need to get back to getting at least 2-3 yards or more every time we run the ball. There is too much Willie getting slammed down in the backfield. Not all his fault because the coaches need to get their head out on how to handle the running game.

mmalone
05-30-2009, 11:17 AM
I think the Steelers may have found a diamond in the rough on this one. If Kemo can get his act together and Urbik can supplant Stapleton, we might have enough road graders out there to get a running game going with Mendy and the Tank back there.

well they had summers markers as a 6th thru 7th rounder and/or FA and we went up the 5th round to secure him. ..must be a big reason for that.

just like the other diamond we got with shipley, running tight with max unger and we got him in the 7th these two maybe the best of our draft for filling holes....

Psyychoward86
05-30-2009, 11:28 AM
THAT's what i want him to be.We dont need another bus, just a worthy fullback. Dont fail me baby, dont fail me.

Dino 6 Rings
05-30-2009, 12:11 PM
THAT's what i want him to be.We dont need another bus, just a worthy fullback. Dont fail me baby, dont fail me.

Not a bus....but a TANK!!!!!!!!

HERE WE GO!

Preacher
05-30-2009, 03:26 PM
cant we just be all dreamy about the Alstott comparison??? If this guy is even a hair off the ass of MA.....we got something, and I think he's the whole bottom and then some.

Yes, if he is a solid all-around player, I WILL be ecstatic. Actually, go back and read my threads just after the draft. . . I AM ecstatic about this kid.

My point wasn't about him, but was about how so many tend to focus on one thing and think that is the key to all our problems. Some pick Arians. . . some pick Willie. . . Some picked Mahan. . . some picked no true fullback. What people failed to realize was that Kreider was CUT from not just our team, but also from the cheifs, age caught up to him. It was TIME for him to go.

I love the idea of being in the I formation, as long as we can utilize more tools in it. ANd like I said before, this kid may be that kind of player.

DACEB
05-30-2009, 07:09 PM
I love the idea of being in the I formation, as long as we can utilize more tools in it. ANd like I said before, this kid may be that kind of player.

Exactly!! Versatility and utilization of ALL the weapons. Hopefully he does everything BA asks really well, and then on top of that blocks like a man possessed.

I like BA's offense, and would love to see it all come together utilizing all the tools. Somebody needs to solidify that H-back role, it would be great if Summers could do that. I'd like to see McHugh expand on last year as well.

Preacher
05-30-2009, 08:01 PM
Exactly!! Versatility and utilization of ALL the weapons. Hopefully he does everything BA asks really well, and then on top of that blocks like a man possessed.

I like BA's offense, and would love to see it all come together utilizing all the tools. Somebody needs to solidify that H-back role, it would be great if Summers could do that. I'd like to see McHugh expand on last year as well.


Honestly, before the draft I thought that they were going to move McHugh back to Fullback.

steelwall
05-30-2009, 08:26 PM
Yes, if he is a solid all-around player, I WILL be ecstatic. Actually, go back and read my threads just after the draft. . . I AM ecstatic about this kid.

My point wasn't about him, but was about how so many tend to focus on one thing and think that is the key to all our problems. Some pick Arians. . . some pick Willie. . . Some picked Mahan. . . some picked no true fullback. What people failed to realize was that Kreider was CUT from not just our team, but also from the cheifs, age caught up to him. It was TIME for him to go.

I love the idea of being in the I formation, as long as we can utilize more tools in it. ANd like I said before, this kid may be that kind of player.


Ok I wasent following you.......but yes...... I formation please... with a good blocking fullback.

The Definiti0n
05-30-2009, 08:28 PM
What formation do we typical run out of? Not just last season but the seasons before when Willie was sucessful?

Aussie_steeler
05-31-2009, 04:39 AM
Honestly, before the draft I thought that they were going to move McHugh back to Fullback.

He still will be IMO.

I just see that Arians now has four interchangeable ( Five if you count McHugh) parts that can utilised in a vast array of combinations. If the O line can start off as a cohesive unit and maintain it throughout the season this Offensive set of players could be explosive.

I can actually see the possible return of a few well executed screen plays. These plays could be run with Mendy, Mewelde or Tank. That kind of diversity could open up the middle running lanes????

Boomerang
05-31-2009, 05:28 AM
He would be a good addition to our O.

Galax Steeler
05-31-2009, 09:05 AM
He still will be IMO.I can actually see the possible return of a few well executed screen plays. These plays could be run with Mendy, Mewelde or Tank. That kind of diversity could open up the middle running lanes????


Bingo that is exactly right and I hope it works out like that for us.

DACEB
05-31-2009, 10:06 AM
I can actually see the possible return of a few well executed screen plays. These plays could be run with Mendy, Mewelde or Tank. That kind of diversity could open up the middle running lanes????

Great point, it's something they need to work on in camp because they haven't been able to consistently run the RB screen for quite some time.

Bubby Blister
06-01-2009, 02:05 PM
What football team were you watching last season, Cleveland?

The reason there is a demise in the running game besides the fact that Bettis is greatly missed, is because Arians chooses to run the ball up the middle with small RBs, has WRs run short routes, and doesnt have TEs opening up the secondary. Almost every play the steelers run can be bottled up with 9 men in the box.

THE STEELERS NOT EFFECTIVELY SPREADING THE OFFENSE is the reason for their running setbacks. Put Jon Kitna as QB instead of Roethlisberger and the Steelers would have been 2-14. Thank Ben for hanging in there on many occasions to make a play, because a running back would'nt have made it out of the backfield.

MORAL OF THIS STORY:

If you are going to run a spread offense, Blockheads like Arians need to realize that a true spread offense not only spreads horizontally but vertically as well!

Go Steelers!!!!!

steelax04
06-01-2009, 02:14 PM
I-formation with two backs that can catch the pass and rip it up field sounds like it opens up a lot of options... and not necessarily just out of a screen.

TDLP
06-01-2009, 03:12 PM
In years to come I really can't see someone like a Willie Parker being a feature back - teams are going to require good, solid, dependable hands out of the backfield to give them as many options as possible. I love FWP, but he doesn't fill me with confidence when he's thrown to.