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mesaSteeler
12-11-2009, 11:07 PM
Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_657438.html#
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, December 12, 2009

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall averaged four yards on his first four carries against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. It stood to reason that Mendenhall could push the pile on third-and-1 on the Steelers' opening drive.

Mendenhall never received the opportunity.

Instead, the Steelers spread the field with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger operating from the shotgun. Roethlisberger was sacked for a 9-yard loss.

"You figure that is a run down. Third-and-1, that's usually a down for our running backs,'' right tackle Willie said Colon, shrugging his shoulders.

"We're just flat-out trying to get this monkey off our backs. He don't want to leave us,'' Colon said.

The next time the Steelers had the ball, Mendenhall gained seven yards on two rushes. On third-and-3, Roethlisberger worked from the shotgun and was sacked for a 10-yard loss.

Coach Mike Tomlin offered a curious explanation for those two play calls:

"Hindsight is 20/20.''

Apparently, so is common sense.

Instead of trying to overpower Cleveland at the point of attack and sending a positive message to a struggling team, the Steelers attempted to finesse an opponent that had served as their personal welcome mat for years.

"Early on, we had some looks that we wanted to catch them on and thought we could get the ball out of our hands quickly,'' Tomlin said. "We lost a few opportunities, and guys didn't come open, and we got sacked. We couldn't get the run game going that we felt pretty good about going into the game ''

Whatever happened to Tomlin's former battle cry of winning the war of attrition?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but we haven't heard that expression since the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII.

The Steelers' offensive linemen are built for the running game. So why aren't the Steelers running more?

It isn't a coincidence that the Steelers offense has struggled all year to attain a comfort level since de-emphasizing the run.

How did the Steelers expect to establish their running game against Cleveland by passing on third-and-1 and third-and-3 early in the game?

The Steelers rushed 22 times for 75 yards in a 13-6 loss to the Browns.

Roethlisberger was 18 of 32 for 201 yards. He was sacked a season-high eight times.

"You want to be able to run the ball against these guys. We run the ball on them every year,'' said backup running back Willie Parker, who had reeled off five consecutive 100-yard games against Cleveland entering this season (including a 223-yard gem in 2006).

"It's just something where you want to stick to the run and keep pounding. But we didn't make enough plays when we were running. We had a lot of mistakes.''

The Steelers have been talking in the past tense a lot lately.

What they used to do, and how they used to play. It's enough to give the Steeler Nation pause and yearn for when the offense ran the ball they way the Steelers now emphasize the passing game like it's going out of style.

With three games to play, it's probably too late to expect the Steelers to suddenly stop passing and return to the run exclusively.

But it sure would be nice to see them develop a better balance between the run and the pass, if for no other reason than to have something positive to build upon entering next season.

After all, the Steelers aren't paying Mendenhall all that money not to touch the ball.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

( "the Steelers attempted to finesse an opponent". Since when are the Steelers a "finesse" team? Bring back SMASHMOUTH. - mesa)

Preacher
12-11-2009, 11:26 PM
:rolleyes: (not at you mesa, at the article).

Really... Is Harris trying to tell me that 2 more run plays a game would have us win games? Is THAT the magic formula?

Because between now and 2006, the variant in the run game is just that, 2 more runs per game. 29 in 2006, 27 and a half in 2007. 28.75 in 2008, and 27 runs in 2009.

Seems to me, we made the playoffs in 2007 (with a lot of injuries... our star RB out with a broken leg, Ryan Clark out, etc.) and then WON the sb in 2008 with just an average of 1.75 more runs a game.

Sorry, Harris, I don't buy that "Run the Ball to win" stuff anymore. Watch the playoffs this year AGAIN. The teams that win, are going to be BALANCED teams, not RUN TEAMS.

Edman
12-11-2009, 11:46 PM
The Steelers were balanced early in the year. Sure enough, we were winning.

Then as the season wore on, we kept getting more and more pass-happy.

The Offense needs balance, and that starts with resurrecting a running game.

Atranox
12-12-2009, 12:26 AM
The Steelers were balanced early in the year. Sure enough, we were winning.

Then as the season wore on, we kept getting more and more pass-happy.

That's fairly inaccurate. While I agree that we've resorted to some awful nonsensical & unnecessary passing plays on third downs & in the red zone, we really haven't become more pass-happy as a whole. Our balance remained pretty consistent all year, both in losses & in wins.

Week 1 - 65% pass
Week 2 - 61% pass
Week 3 - 53% pass
Week 4 - 48% pass
Week 5 - 64% pass
Week 6 - 57% pass
Week 7 - 59% pass
Week 8 - Bye
Week 9 - 50% pass
Week 10 - 69% pass
Week 11 - 58% pass
Week 12 - 41% pass
Week 13 - 47% pass
Week 14 - 59% pass

Average in games that we've won = 57% pass
Average in games that we've lost = 55% pass
Average in our 5-game losing streak = 54% pass

Atranox
12-12-2009, 12:31 AM
Blah, double post.

ricardisimo
12-12-2009, 02:32 AM
That's fairly inaccurate. While I agree that we've resorted to some awful nonsensical & unnecessary passing plays on third downs & in the red zone, we really haven't become more pass-happy as a whole. Our balance remained pretty consistent all year, both in losses & in wins.

Week 1 - 65% pass
Week 2 - 61% pass
Week 3 - 53% pass
Week 4 - 48% pass
Week 5 - 64% pass
Week 6 - 57% pass
Week 7 - 59% pass
Week 8 - Bye
Week 9 - 50% pass
Week 10 - 69% pass
Week 11 - 58% pass
Week 12 - 41% pass
Week 13 - 47% pass
Week 14 - 59% pass

Average in games that we've won = 57% pass
Average in games that we've lost = 55% pass
Average in our 5-game losing streak = 54% pass

Your numbers are wrong. People seem to forget that sacks are pass plays (as are busted pass plays where Ben has to scramble and run). If you add in the 8 sacks, we passed 65% of the time. If you were able to isolate and enumerate the busted plays, in this game and others, all of your passing percentages would be much higher.

We've been a lot more pass-happy than some seem to want to realize or accept.

stlrtruck
12-12-2009, 08:51 AM
How funny that the last time we shrugged off the run for the pass we had a pathetic season too!

markymarc
12-12-2009, 12:15 PM
John Harris is really reaching in that article.

dcsteel5804
12-12-2009, 04:10 PM
:rolleyes: (not at you mesa, at the article).

Really... Is Harris trying to tell me that 2 more run plays a game would have us win games? Is THAT the magic formula?

Because between now and 2006, the variant in the run game is just that, 2 more runs per game. 29 in 2006, 27 and a half in 2007. 28.75 in 2008, and 27 runs in 2009.

Seems to me, we made the playoffs in 2007 (with a lot of injuries... our star RB out with a broken leg, Ryan Clark out, etc.) and then WON the sb in 2008 with just an average of 1.75 more runs a game.

Sorry, Harris, I don't buy that "Run the Ball to win" stuff anymore. Watch the playoffs this year AGAIN. The teams that win, are going to be BALANCED teams, not RUN TEAMS.

I don't think that Harris is trying to say that running in those two key situations would have won the game. If you read the article objectively, you'll find that he's saying that doing so would have set the tone, not resulted in 9 and 10 yard losses, and would have given the Steelers a better chance at converting the down. I agree with this assesment.

Steelerfreak58
12-12-2009, 04:21 PM
I don't think that Harris is trying to say that running in those two key situations would have won the game. If you read the article objectively, you'll find that he's saying that doing so would have set the tone, not resulted in 9 and 10 yard losses, and would have given the Steelers a better chance at converting the down. I agree with this assesment.

Agreed. We had a back averaging 4+ yrds per carry come on! :mad:

tony hipchest
12-12-2009, 05:06 PM
:rolleyes: (not at you mesa, at the article).

Really... Is Harris trying to tell me that 2 more run plays a game would have us win games? Is THAT the magic formula?

Sorry, Harris, I don't buy that "Run the Ball to win" stuff anymore. Watch the playoffs this year AGAIN. The teams that win, are going to be BALANCED teams, not RUN TEAMS.

i highly suggest reading this pat kirwan article i posted 2 games into our 5 game losing streak. it pretty much predicts the steelers epic collapse, and shows how teams shifting about 4 more passes to run has made a world of difference and led to winning streaks.

http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=42780

arians plan for success was a recipe for disaster and clearly shows he was behind the curve, and not aware of the trends going on in the nfl.

it leaves me wondering if the steelers even have any coaches assistants doing quality control and self scouting by breaking down film, and seeing if there are predictable trends based on down and distance.

game planning and play calling is all about playing the odds. when the opponent knows arians is going shotgun on 3rd and short 80% of the time, there is a problem, because you are going to lose those downs 80% of the time (as we have seen).

as for the stats in the previous posts, i agree they are skewed.

sure we had 32 passing attempts. + 8 sacks + 2 ben rushing attempts that were scrambles = 42 pass calls vs. 20 rushing attempts (one of which was a qb sneak).

that is unacceptable considering the opponent, the weather conditions, the fact that the 4 game losing streak said it was, the fact that we beat this team last year by smashing the ball down their throat during a tropical storm and only throwing it 20 times, etc.

not only have we fallen victim to the incredibly predictable run-run-pas on 3rd and short mentality, the rashard-rashard-willie rotation is killing us too and takes a back out of the game before he even has a chance to get warm, let alone hot.

for Gods sake dont tell the opponents exactly what you are going to do!!!!

the the browns coaches didnt even need the playbook. all they needed to do was do their jobs, study the film, know arians, and crush the steelers. anyone think rob didnt talk to his brother rex ryan to gain some insight?

Preacher
12-12-2009, 05:39 PM
i highly suggest reading this pat kirwan article i posted 2 games into our 5 game losing streak. it pretty much predicts the steelers epic collapse, and shows how teams shifting about 4 more passes to run has made a world of difference and led to winning streaks.

http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=42780

arians plan for success was a recipe for disaster and clearly shows he was behind the curve, and not aware of the trends going on in the nfl.

it leaves me wondering if the steelers even have any coaches assistants doing quality control and self scouting by breaking down film, and seeing if there are predictable trends based on down and distance.

game planning and play calling is all about playing the odds. when the opponent knows arians is going shotgun on 3rd and short 80% of the time, there is a problem, because you are going to lose those downs 80% of the time (as we have seen).

as for the stats in the previous posts, i agree they are skewed.

sure we had 32 passing attempts. + 8 sacks + 2 ben rushing attempts that were scrambles = 42 pass calls vs. 20 rushing attempts (one of which was a qb sneak).

that is unacceptable considering the opponent, the weather conditions, the fact that the 4 game losing streak said it was, the fact that we beat this team last year by smashing the ball down their throat during a tropical storm and only throwing it 20 times, etc.

not only have we fallen victim to the incredibly predictable run-run-pas on 3rd and short mentality, the rashard-rashard-willie rotation is killing us too and takes a back out of the game before he even has a chance to get warm, let alone hot.

for Gods sake dont tell the opponents exactly what you are going to do!!!!

the the browns coaches didnt even need the playbook. all they needed to do was do their jobs, study the film, know arians, and crush the steelers. anyone think rob didnt talk to his brother rex ryan to gain some insight?

First, we are not in a run run pass mentality, or we would have stats that show us running the ball twice as much as we throw the ball. Furthermore, Last year when we won the SB, we only ran the ball one and a half times more than we did this year. So I still don't buy it.

What I AM in agreement with, is how we broadcast our plays. Everytime Ward comes in tight to the line, its a run. When Ward goes out wide, its probably a pass. That kind of tell is a KILLER in this league. Empty set broadcasts what we are doing. Now, if you line up 3 wide with a TE, get a run defense out there, and move the RB to receiver for an empty set, great... cause we have the advantage. That stuff wasn't happening NEARLY enough.

I am going to say it until I am blue in teh face. BALANCE BALANCE BALANCE.

Running the ball is not an elixir for success. Neither is throwing it. They are both needed ingredients for a SB bound FB team.

tony hipchest
12-13-2009, 03:35 PM
First, we are not in a run run pass mentality, or we would have stats that show us running the ball twice as much as we throw the ball. Furthermore, Last year when we won the SB, we only ran the ball one and a half times more than we did this year. So I still don't buy it.

What I AM in agreement with, is how we broadcast our plays. Everytime Ward comes in tight to the line, its a run. When Ward goes out wide, its probably a pass. That kind of tell is a KILLER in this league. Empty set broadcasts what we are doing. Now, if you line up 3 wide with a TE, get a run defense out there, and move the RB to receiver for an empty set, great... cause we have the advantage. That stuff wasn't happening NEARLY enough.

I am going to say it until I am blue in teh face. BALANCE BALANCE BALANCE.

Running the ball is not an elixir for success. Neither is throwing it. They are both needed ingredients for a SB bound FB team.

preacher, why do you still not get it??? the ONLY way to achieve balance is TO RUM THE BALL MORE.

the run-run-pass statement wasnt to be taken literally, but an illustration of how we pass in third and short running downs.

the guy calling the plays is afraid to run in known running downs when he knows the defense probably knows what the offense will do. instead of imposing his will, he tries to trick them with a fancy route and pass.

that is ***** football that the patriots built. that is the weak shit joey porter called the colts out for. the colts and pats have spent years accumulating the talent to run a finesse, qb driven offense where an offensive coordinator isnt needed (quick- tell me the name of the pats o-cord. they dont have one).

you say you dont buy it. there is nothing to buy. look back at tomlins press conferences when he was hired, and in his first year. when he was asked about his OFFENSIVE philosophy he stated numerous times that he was all about steelers football. he was all about the tradition that the steelers and rooneys had established (BIG reason he got the job beyond his impressive qualifications).

he said he is all about smashmouth, ball control, pound the rock, football.

he proved this in his first year when he "ran the wheels off of willie". you really dont think that was arians decision, do you? willie was leading the league in rushing, set records of 200+ yds rushing in a single game vs. the browns, and ben had his finest season statistically. unfortunately we had a defense that was w/o troy and smith and we made an early exit in the playoffs. (dont forget tomlins going for 2, blunders and the highly critisized ben roll out to end the game).

you bring up last year, and everyone says how we won last year with the new offensive philosophy. that is bullshit. we passed more out of necessity. we had no other choice but to put it in our best players hands. at one point we were down willie, mendenhall, AND carey davis. for a few games we leaned heavilly on m. moore, who was a 3rd down back and 4th on our primary back depth chart. we won the superbowl.

but why stick to that formula just because it happened to work, when we had a bellcow back coming back from injury? the formula was flawed and nearly cost us the game because we refuse to/or cant kill the clock by running the ball with a 4 minute offense.

that offense nearly cost us because it is so predictable.

i dont buy your strawman argument that anyone who wants us to run more wants to go back to the days of cowherball, losing 4-5 AFCChamp games, and a 65% run ratio.

dont forget, cowherball and jerome being able to run the 4 minute offense is what kept seattle out of the game and seattle never really came close in the second half.

bruce convinced tomlin he had the winning formula just because it happened to work last year. tomlin gave him too much leash, turned his back on his, and the rooney way and let him run with it (no pun intended). all we have seen is stat padding for ben and resume building for the OC.

against denver we FINALLY start using the G-power with kemo pulling like faneca that used to be our bread and butter play. where has that been since. it seems we abandon it because it works. why have we only seen legursky in as a lead blocker once on short down or goal to go distance?

oh, thats right, we shit canned it because it works. :banging:

BlastFurnace
12-13-2009, 03:46 PM
John Harris is really reaching in that article.

Problem is, none of us know what is wrong with the team. I doubt the Steelers know what is wrong with them.

Everything will be sorted out at the end of the season.

El-Gonzo Jackson
12-13-2009, 11:51 PM
the guy calling the plays is afraid to run in known running downs when he knows the defense probably knows what the offense will do. instead of imposing his will, he tries to trick them with a fancy route and pass.
:

Good synopsis Tony. This is what got Paul Palmer all the yardage at Temple and the Browns to the Wildcard game in 2002, only to lose to the Steelers in an epic failure because they could not run the ball and close the game out.

What I find most disheartening is that the Offense has changed from a physical unit that tries to impose their will on the defense, to one that tries to hold off the enemy long enough in the hope that Ben comes thru with a completion.

Steel-Bryan
12-14-2009, 12:56 AM
I get mad when they put willie in after mendenhall gets hot

OX1947
12-14-2009, 01:00 AM
Its not how many times they have ran during games, its WHEN to run. And when the Steelers should have ran, they were in shotgun with a 10 point lead instead of running and wasting clock. What happens when you pass? You get incomplete passes and that stops the clock. So now imagine if the Steelers had run the ball and still done nothing, you probably would have killed 2 or 3 more min. And those 2 or 3 less min mean the game.

OX1947
12-14-2009, 01:02 AM
I get mad when they put willie in after mendenhall gets hot

MAN, I can;t even explain how furious I was when they ran Mewelde on that sweep against the Ravens. If you are going to run a sweep, how bout give it to the one guy who can move in other ways but straight at least.

zulater
12-14-2009, 05:47 AM
All I know is that it was insanity to have a pass to run ratio of over 2-1 on play calls ( factoring in sacks and qb scrambles as called pass plays) with reported 40 mph cross winds, an ailing receiver, and against the 31st ranked defense against the run. Granted the going wasn't easy when they did run. Of course it was still better than what the passing game was providing with all the sacks allowed. But anyway you have to have commitment to the run sometimes in order to make it work. Going empty back set on virtually every 3rd and short isn't going to get you there. The Browns hung around waiting for us to beat them. There was no reason to abandon the run at any point of that game. But they did.

mesaSteeler
12-14-2009, 06:20 AM
Good synopsis Tony. This is what got Paul Palmer all the yardage at Temple and the Browns to the Wildcard game in 2002, only to lose to the Steelers in an epic failure because they could not run the ball and close the game out.

What I find most disheartening is that the Offense has changed from a physical unit that tries to impose their will on the defense, to one that tries to hold off the enemy long enough in the hope that Ben comes thru with a completion.

Astute analysis.

Bobby_Walden
12-14-2009, 06:49 AM
The article is exactly right. Running sets the tone. The D is forced to move up. Play action passing becomes possible for big gains. The team plays tougher. Controls game.

Tommy Gun of 2003 = Failure.
Bruce Arians of 2009 = Failure.

Starting to think Mike T. is going to kill his career in Pitt listening to an OC who already has been fired by Cleveland for doing the same junk there.

groundhogday
12-14-2009, 09:02 AM
The article is exactly right. Running sets the tone. The D is forced to move up. Play action passing becomes possible for big gains. The team plays tougher. Controls game.

People keep bringing up percentages but those do not paint the entire picture. Having a commitment to run even if the percentage to pass plays is relatively even at the end of the game creates multple benefits as mentioned in the above quote...PAP, Ball Control, Sets the tone as a physical team. A couple weeks back on a Sunday Nights game they showed some crazy stat with Big Ben completing 34 ot 38 PAP attempts for some sick rating. We should be running PAP 7 to 10 times a game not 3.

steelpride12
12-14-2009, 09:06 AM
I agree with Harris. It seems like the games where we had a balanced rushing attacking our team won and I think the lack of success is not being caught up with the rest of the league when it comes to RB's.
We need a one-two punch of a tough, bigger running back(Mendy) to a faster outside the corner rusher. Now that could be Parker and I feel his last few games he has look pretty good with the few carries he has, but if not him who?

Vincent
12-14-2009, 09:10 AM
Your numbers are wrong. People seem to forget that sacks are pass plays (as are busted pass plays where Ben has to scramble and run). If you add in the 8 sacks, we passed 65% of the time. If you were able to isolate and enumerate the busted plays, in this game and others, all of your passing percentages would be much higher.

We've been a lot more pass-happy than some seem to want to realize or accept.

What he said.

Dino 6 Rings
12-14-2009, 12:00 PM
I get mad when they put willie in after mendenhall gets hot

actually, I think Mendy got racked in the sack and needed a breather...just saying.

Dino 6 Rings
12-14-2009, 12:10 PM
you know what else I'm sick of...since we are ranting :)

OC's trying to be smarter than the room. Really...I mean we see it so often. If something is working, go with it, why try to be fancy or tricky, just go with what works. And then adjust accordingly as the Defense adjusts. I hate, seriously hate when our OC tries to be sneaky or fancy. This goes all the way back to the SB against the Cowboys, we get the ball with over 4 mins left in the game down 20-17. And even though we'd run well against the Cowboys, pretty sure we were over 100 yards at this point...we insisted on going spread and throwing the ball on 1st down, incomplete, and then 2nd down. Interception.

I mean...does no one read history or study past games or anything, or do all these OC's think they are just smarter than everyone else?

Our Oline as of right now is not a very good pass Blocking Oline. Everyone Freaking Knows this. Kids playing peewee football in omaha nebraska know, the Steelers don't pass block very well, yet we Insist on calling 40 effing pass plays in frigid conditions against the worst run defense in the leage?

wasn't it Bruce who said this season "we got greedy with the pass" ??? I mean...if he knows he's being greedy, and knows it FAILED last time he got greedy...why the EF do we allow him to be Greedy again?

Its like putting a fat kid on a diet of fruitloops for breakfast, cookies for lunch and mac and cheese for dinner every day for a week and wonder why the diet isn't helping him lose weight....I mean really.