View Full Version : Oops! Mendenhall's not a bust but falls short of vintage Parker

11-15-2009, 10:59 AM
Oops! Mendenhall's not a bust but falls short of vintage Parker
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OK, maybe he's not a bust.

Now that Rashard Mendenhall is averaging more yards per carry than all but one running back in the NFL, you could say I was a little hasty when I said he was looking like a bust.

When I wrote that, he had yet to make the kind of run you would expect from a No. 1 pick. What seemed to be missing before head coach Mike Tomlin shut him down for a game was passion. He definitely has that now. His stats tell the story, but I also think they speak volumes about the offensive line. Unless my eyes are deceiving me for the past several games, the Steelers' backs have had huge holes opened for them.

Willie Parker might not be as effective as in previous seasons, but the Willie Parker of a few years ago would have gained more yards than Mendenhall gained running through the same holes.

Something tells me it's not all about the offensive line suddenly getting better. I think it's more about the Steelers becoming a pass-first offense. Defenses no longer come in looking to stop the run first. They know they have to stop the short and intermediate passes first. I'll bet most defensive coordinators wish that the Steelers would go back to being a ball-control team.

• How can anyone watch Ben Roethlisberger and not see he is the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL? He's still prone to throwing interceptions and losing the ball in the pocket because he stands there too long. But if I need one long touchdown drive to win a championship, then you can have Peyton Manning. I'll take Roethlisberger.

Keep in mind that as pass-happy as the Steelers are compared to past Steelers teams, they don't run the kind of offense Indianapolis and New England do to make it easier for a quarterback to fatten his stats. Going into last Monday night's game, I heard so-called experts debating whether Roetlisberger was in the same class with Phillip Rivers and Eli Manning. I don't think it's even close. He's not.

He's in a class by himself.

(Rest of the article is not about the Steelers - mesa)

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.