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View Full Version : Mendenhall's role diminishes as Steelers offense comes to pass


Wallace108
12-03-2011, 12:37 AM
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Among Rashard Mendenhall's latest beliefs is teams who run the ball can still win in the pass-oriented NFL.

Never mind that most of the top teams in the league still believe the path to the Super Bowl is through the air.

Crazy, huh?

Not to Mendenhall, the Steelers' top running back.

"I still think that's the formula to win," Mendenhall said. "I feel like the successful teams, when you look at the Broncos and what they're doing and the Texans and teams like that, teams that are able to run the ball, they have balance on offense and it does nothing but help them. Plus it gives your defense a break."

The Steelers (8-3) are like most of the NFL's top teams: They have leaned heavily on the pass in 2011, more than they did last year.

And the person most affected is Mendenhall, who has seen his workload -- not to mention his impact on the offense -- diminish.

Heading into Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) at Heinz Field, Mendenhall is well below the pace of last season when he set career highs for yards (1,273), carries (324) and touchdowns (13).

In the 10 games he has played, he has a team-high 574 yards on 153 carries, an average of 3.8 yards per attempt. That is nowhere close to the impact he had on the offense at a similar point in 2010.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11337/1194309-66-0.stm?cmpid=steelers.xml#ixzz1fRzgo8xM
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I found a couple quotes in this article quite interesting. Here's what Arians has to say:

"The biggest disappointment for me was our rush per average; I didn't like our per-carry average," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "It has to pick up for us to be where we want to be. We have to run the ball closer to 4 [yards] per carry. It's not the number of carries, it's the quality of the carries. And when we want to run it, we have to run it better, I think."

Arians always talks about quantity over quality, but a good running game isn't like a light switch that can be turned on and off at will. You have to establish your running game. You can't just run when you feel like it and expect it to work.

It seems Mendy would agree (talking about big run plays):

"When you work at it and concentrate on and focus on it, those plays come. When it's spotty like it has been, it's hard to create a play like that."

and ...

"The more you run, the more you wear the defense down," Mendenhall said. "The more you do it, the better chance you have of success."

It's safe to say that Mendy and Arians don't see eye to eye on what it takes to have an effective running game. So who's right? I say Mendy.

ricardisimo
12-03-2011, 03:02 AM
I agree 100%. The one snippet from me this year that really caught my eye was the quote from - I believe - a lineman after one particularly abysmal performance, saying basically "we didn't practice any of the plays that were called", specifically in reference to the running game. It's like the guy wants the run game to fail so that he has an excuse (an excuse he elaborates in this article) to air it out.

steelfury02
12-03-2011, 06:08 AM
yup, as Mendenhall says - when the play calls for a run come, it has been spotty and not used often enough for it to work. They don't work on it enough so its the equivalent of a receiver who sits on the bench year in and year out and then getting pissed at him because he wasn't able to successfully run or get open on every play - when in fact he wasn't game speed ready - same could be said for running game.

They aren't practicing it, hardly running it, thus 3.9 per carry average or whatever and not "4" - which to me is splitting hairs.

Wallace108
12-03-2011, 10:11 AM
I agree 100%. The one snippet from me this year that really caught my eye was the quote from - I believe - a lineman after one particularly abysmal performance, saying basically "we didn't practice any of the plays that were called", specifically in reference to the running game. It's like the guy wants the run game to fail so that he has an excuse (an excuse he elaborates in this article) to air it out.

That was Mendy speaking again. He's obviously not afraid to say what's on his mind. :sofunny:

Here's a quote from Ben from the same article:

"And I think the more that we can throw the ball it can open up the running game. And when we can run the ball it opens up the passing game. So, I think we've got a lot of unselfish guys in this room that just want to win football games."

Arians has Ben brainwashed. You don't throw the ball downfield constantly to set up the run. You run the ball to set up the downfield passes. The fact that they can't run the ball consistently shows that Arians' philosophy doesn't work. If it did, with as much as they pass, they should be able to gain big chunks of yardage every time they run the ball.

Atlanta Dan
12-03-2011, 10:30 AM
Arians has Ben brainwashed.l.

Not exactly - Ben supports Arians because it allows Ben to play his game (hold on to the ball, throw deep and make plays when the designed play often fails) - without Ben's support Arians would have been gone after 2009

Another coordinator might try to impose more structure to the offense (e.g. - be less willing to take the sack)

Ben has been an excellent QB but I wonder how much better he could have been (the offensive rankings have never been that great under Arians) with a coordinator that was not Ben's yes monkey and how sandlot ball will work as Ben inevitably loses a step with age and the cumulative hits

Sixburgher
12-03-2011, 10:38 AM
Ben has been an excellent QB but I wonder how much better he could have been (the offensive rankings have never been that great under Arians) with a coordinator that was not Ben's yes monkey and how sandlot ball will work as Ben inevitably loses a step with age and the cumulative hits

If he was truly Ben's "yes monkey" it seems there would be a lot more no huddle being run, since another common complaint here is that even though Ben wants to, he isn't permitted to run the no huddle more. Presumably that is Arians' call.

MACH1
12-03-2011, 10:45 AM
I agree 100%. The one snippet from me this year that really caught my eye was the quote from - I believe - a lineman after one particularly abysmal performance, saying basically "we didn't practice any of the plays that were called", specifically in reference to the running game. It's like the guy wants the run game to fail so that he has an excuse (an excuse he elaborates in this article) to air it out.

Yep....Along with the failure to practice against 4-3 D's and wondering why you lost.

FanSince72
12-03-2011, 01:32 PM
A running back will argue for more runs and a QB (especially one like Ben) will argue for more passes. That's the politics of such things which is pretty typical and not surprising.

Whether Arians is deliberately doing anything to sabotage the running game is anyone's guess, but I for one think that a "pass-first" game is what we need and what will ultimately work best.
I don't however, like that there may be some sort of rift developing between the run supporters and the pass supporters and I hope that doesn't become a locker room issue.

ricardisimo
12-03-2011, 02:48 PM
That was Mendy speaking again. He's obviously not afraid to say what's on his mind. :sofunny:

Here's a quote from Ben from the same article:



Arians has Ben brainwashed. You don't throw the ball downfield constantly to set up the run. You run the ball to set up the downfield passes. The fact that they can't run the ball consistently shows that Arians' philosophy doesn't work. If it did, with as much as they pass, they should be able to gain big chunks of yardage every time they run the ball.
I remember that quote being from a lineman, but I could be wrong. As far as the run setting up the pass setting up the run setting up the punt, you guys should read this latest article from Dave Bryan over at Steelers Depot (http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/12/play-action-passing-stats-of-steelers-qb-ben-roethlisberger/). He outlines Ben's success using play action, (even though he does it significantly less than all of the other top QBs this year), combined with the fact that the Bengals rank dead last in the league against play action.

I'll leave it to you guys to figure out just what mastermind Arians will do with this knowledge. :banging:

MasterOfPuppets
12-03-2011, 05:08 PM
yup, as Mendenhall says - when the play calls for a run come, it has been spotty and not used often enough for it to work. They don't work on it enough so its the equivalent of a receiver who sits on the bench year in and year out and then getting pissed at him because he wasn't able to successfully run or get open on every play - when in fact he wasn't game speed ready - same could be said for running game.

They aren't practicing it, hardly running it, thus 3.9 per carry average or whatever and not "4" - which to me is splitting hairs.

Nov. 30, 2011 5:58 p.m. (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/rapid-reports/post/16296556) - by Dale Grdnic - Focus on passing, Mendenhall's numbers suffer (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/rapid-reports/post/16296556)
After rushing for more than 1,100 yards in 2009 and nearly 1,300 last season, Rashard Mendenhall (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/rapid-reports/player/561926/rashard-mendenhall) has 574 yards in 11 games. "The focus has become passing, so we don't put too much into the running game," Mendenhall said. "We really don't call the plays, so I try to execute every time I get a chance."
nuff said :coffee:

there's the old cliche...you only get out of it what you put into it....

of course arians isn't going to admit they don't practice run blocking and that may be part of the reason for the putrid blocking.

SH-Rock
12-03-2011, 05:56 PM
If Mendenhall was a more efficient runner, then he would see more action. But 3.8 ypc? Come on man.

OX1947
12-03-2011, 07:42 PM
Let Mendenhall go and pick up Ben Tate next year. Redman is good, Moore is good, but they are not featured backs.

steelfury02
12-03-2011, 08:13 PM
First in line to say Mendy needs to stop dancing around

However, also first in line to say that on 3rd and short, that 3.8 yards will get us the first down over trying a low percentage play ala 30 to 40 yard pass to Wallace.

Logic dictates that we at the very least, call a pass or run play that will get us the first down - and thus, a new set of downs - not giving the ball back yet again to keep the game closer than it should be

Terrible situational football yet again. I've never witness such a nice stable of running backs so restricted. I'm not saying that "Steeler football" via running it down people's throats is a relevant formula anymore but we have become a very inefficient, predictable offense.

What is the bottom line? Wins and losses. But when you are running out of time and putting up terrible offensive performances against the likes of a team that has been blown out it is only natural to question where this team will go this season.

Keep relying on the defense to bail us out and we'll see how far that gets us.

The time for the offense to step up and do its part is long overdue. We can all stop finding stats and making excuses for them any time now . . .

MasterOfPuppets
12-03-2011, 08:48 PM
Let Mendenhall go and pick up Ben Tate next year. Redman is good, Moore is good, but they are not featured backs.
never mind the fact that the texans spent a 2nd rd pick on him. i'm sure he'll be available next year....:uhh:

tony hipchest
12-03-2011, 10:30 PM
at one point or another every one of our OL, to a man, has come out and said how much they love run blocking. they are all smash mouth maulers. hell starks, kemo, and colon are all holdovers from the cowher regime. their forte is going forward, not standing up and being dancing bears.

square pegs in round holes.

and ricardo, since the bungles are worst in the league against play action, that means the bungles know the steelers will come out using a bunch of play action, therefore they will be prepared for it (even though they cant do jack shit to stop it).

THERFORE BA will trick them and not use it at all. :muhaha: "that'll trick em"!

steelfury02
12-04-2011, 07:28 AM
LOL

BA woke up this morning, had his coffee and said

"I had this terrible nightmare last night. I saw us sticking with a game plan that we kept using because the other team wasn't stopping it. THEN - they made adjustments for the second half, and I still was able to put our offense in a great position to score. Thank god I woke up . . . phew, the Bengals will think I'll use the play action because they have been historically bad at it, prepare for us to use it even though we can still beat them at it, but that is far too simple to try. That'll get em!"

Kanata-Steeler
12-04-2011, 02:49 PM
Mendy did Excellent today, and I already forgot your subject header -LoL.

stb_steeler
12-04-2011, 03:11 PM
Mendy did Excellent today, and I already forgot your subject header -LoL.

LoL....yep...just when they count ya out, it pulls em right back in....

Wallace108
12-04-2011, 03:42 PM
Ben threw only 23 passes today, and we ran the ball consistently. How did that work out for us? :hatsoff:

Hopefully Arians saw that this style of offense is more effective. But I doubt it.

ricardisimo
12-04-2011, 08:03 PM
That was a great game plan. Kudos to Bruce, Rashard and Issac.

OX1947
12-04-2011, 08:57 PM
never mind the fact that the texans spent a 2nd rd pick on him. i'm sure he'll be available next year....:uhh:

Oh yah? Who's going to pay two running backs on the same team featured running back money? YOU?

ricardisimo
12-04-2011, 11:56 PM
Oh yah? Who's going to pay two running backs on the same team featured running back money? YOU?
Please forgive me for saying this, but you make absolutely zero sense.