View Full Version : Steelers’ run game off to worst start in 62 years

Hawaii 5-0
09-27-2012, 02:35 AM
Steelers’ run game off to worst start in 62 years

By Alan Robinson
Thursday, September 27, 2012,

Isaac Redman started the first three games, but he understands changes are needed in what is becoming an historically bad Steelers running game.

Redman concedes former 1,000-yard rusher Rashard Mendenhall will regain his starting job as soon as he is healthy and ready to play, and all signs point to that being when the Steelers return Monday from their weekend off.

“We’re looking for him to come in and be the feature guy,” Redman said Thursday.

Time for a change? Even Ben Roethlisberger’s exceptional passing statistics can’t cover up that the Steelers haven’t been this one-dimensional since they were running an offense most teams gave up on in the 1940s.

With 195 yards rushing and a 2.64-yards-per-carry average, the running game is off to its worst start in 62 years — or since the Steelers were the last NFL team still using the single-wing offense. For comparison’s sake, the Chiefs have run for 575 yards.

And they didn’t call it the wildcat back in 1950, when the Steelers gained only 189 yards in the first three games of what became a 6-6 season.

“We’ve got talented receivers, we’ve got a Superman at quarterback, and it’s easy to say that the pass is doing better,” left guard Willie Colon said. “To kind of sum it all up, we’ve got to put in more work.”

During the offseason, general manager Kevin Colbert said the team couldn’t count on Mendenhall in 2012, not after he tore the ACL in his right knee Jan. 1 in Cleveland. Then again, Colbert probably didn’t count on not having a running back capable of gaining even 75 yards in three games.

Redman’s 72 yards (on 32 carries) lead an offense that not long ago figured on Willie Parker or Jerome Bettis gaining that many yards by the end of the third quarter. Jonathan Dwyer (70 yards) is the only other running back with more than 15 yards rushing.

Still, offensive coordinator Todd Haley said the Steelers (1-2) must ease in Mendenhall, who didn’t resume practicing until Labor Day.

“To get another difference-maker back hopefully will be a big deal for us,” Haley said.

Redman and Dwyer are inside runners, while Mendenhall is a turn-the-corner back capable of breaking the big run the Steelers are lacking. Their longest run is a 13-yarder by Redman.

“But I don’t think (the running game) is too much different than it’s been,” Mendenhall said. “It might be perceived that we’re struggling, and it’s not the case. It’s a different offense, we’ve got some different guys, and we’re trying to figure out how to put it together.”

The blocking isn’t totally to blame; Haley gave All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey an unusually high grade after the 34-31 loss Sunday in Oakland. But Colon acknowledged he’s still making the transition from right tackle to left guard, especially while run blocking.

“One thing I’ve learned in the three games I’ve been playing at my position is a lot of what I do makes runs go, as far as pulling and clearing holes,” Colon said. “I personally haven’t been efficient with that. I’m trying my best and working my tail off. There are a lot of blocks that I see, if I were to be more detailed in my work and better at what I do, maybe our run average would be better.”

Roethlisberger has compensated for the absence of a running game by throwing 120 times for 904 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception, by far the most attempts for a Steelers quarterback this early in a season.

Even Joe Gilliam had fewer attempts (112) in 1974, when he threw so often while calling his own plays that it finally led coach Chuck Noll to bench him for Terry Bradshaw.

“I feel good about the guys up front and feel good about the guys carrying the ball,” Haley said. “You will see the run game come along — and it needs to.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.


09-27-2012, 08:30 AM
“But I don’t think (the running game) is too much different than it’s been,” Mendenhall said. “It might be perceived that we’re struggling, and it’s not the case. It’s a different offense, we’ve got some different guys, and we’re trying to figure out how to put it together.”

I wanna know what hell Rashard Mendenhall is smoking, how much it costs per ounce and who I need to call to get some. Is he serious? Perceived to be struggling? That's like saying a whale is perceived to be a large animal. It's one thing to back your teammates, but that statement is asinine. This running game is embarassing. I'm not sure if RM is the fix to the problem, but I hope so. But that smacks of classic denial to me. And you can't fix a problem, if you deny it exists.


09-27-2012, 08:48 AM
from afar, I just don't like the "Ah gee golly, don't worry, my mistake, it'll be somethin we werk on and it'll be rectified" attitude DERP A DUHR. How the hell can they be so calm about it. It is an effin problem. Von Miller and Dumersmeeel were just the tip of the iceberg for them. If people think Ben is gonna do it all on his own, then you can start makin a countdown to his next gimpy leg that will def stick a fork in them.

Seriously, when are any of these guys gonna get effin serious?

El-Gonzo Jackson
09-27-2012, 09:44 AM
Mendenhall sees that they are only a few solid runs away from having a productive run game. In this NFL its about having enough production to make play action work and they are not as far as the doomsday writers believe.

There are seams that a better back will hit, when we have one in the backfield. The other thing that makes the stats look bad is the poorly executed sprint draw plays. Having Rainey or Danceman stuck in the backfield for 3 yard losses doesnt help the numbers.

09-27-2012, 05:31 PM
Maybe we aren't doing well in the ground game because Haley is not that concerned with it? (just speculating)

Do you honestly care if we win by throwing the ball 50 times a game, or if we win by a "three yeards and a cloud of dust" scheme? Our offense is hardly struggling right now.

When you have an offense that features:

Big Ben (elite QB)
Heath Miller (elite TE)
Mike Wallace (fastest WR in the NFL)
Antonio Brown (first WR to pick up 1000 in the air and 1000 in kick returns)
Jericho Cotchery (savvy veteran)

Why, oh why, would you be concerned with handing the ball off to:

Isaac Redman (injured groin)
Jonathan Dwyer (backup RB that shows some skills)
Chris Rainey (who?)
Baron Batch (who?)

In my mind, the only reason we are running the ball at all right now, is because Haley realizes what Arians did not-- you have to at least make the opposing defense defend the run, even if it is not getting you the production you need. It is all about keeping the opposing defense honest.

Right now, we are a pass-first offense, because that is the personnel we have. We ran the ball so much during preseason probably to throw other teams off.

The reason we are 1-2 right now is not on the offense. Not being able to protect a late 14-point lead on the goddam Raiders falls squarely on the defense. The offense has produced points, kept Ben upright, and eaten up the clock like crazy. Our defense then lets opposing QBs score TDs on a couple big plays. That is nothing that having a running game will fix.

Fire Haley
09-27-2012, 05:48 PM
Dear Mendy

we love you

please come back

I hath spoken

El-Gonzo Jackson
09-27-2012, 05:50 PM
When the Raiders tried to run with McFadden, it made the defense honor the run and not just drop in pass coverage.

Haley has tried to run the ball, but not abandoned it. When you try to run the football, the defense has to at least defend it pre snap. That is they there is committment to the run game despite lack of success. A better group of RB's might help.

El-Gonzo Jackson
09-27-2012, 05:51 PM

I guess its true..........he is currently the backup RB and everybody likes the backup RB the best!!

Dear Mendy

we love you

please come back

I hath spoken

09-27-2012, 05:56 PM
When the Raiders tried to run with McFadden, it made the defense honor the run and not just drop in pass coverage.

Haley has tried to run the ball, but not abandoned it. When you try to run the football, the defense has to at least defend it pre snap. That is they there is committment to the run game despite lack of success. A better group of RB's might help.

Exactly-- you stated it better than I did.

That is the difference between Haley and Arians. Haley sees the need to make the opposing defense defend the run, even if the ground game is not tearing it up. It doesn't telegraph to the opposing team that "it is a passing play" and hang Ben out to dry.

Arians did not, because that is what the opposing team expects him to do, so he should do the opposite....

Fire Arians
09-27-2012, 06:05 PM

I guess its true..........he is currently the backup RB and everybody likes the backup RB the best!!

I've always liked mendenhall better, and think in haley's system he will finally be used the way he should be, they will try to get him out in space more, where he's dangerous

mendenhall will definitely draw more attention than redman from opposing defenses, mainly because of the big play threat. A big hole opens for redman = 10 yard gain, not the end of the world. A nice hole for mendenhall = 25+ yards

09-27-2012, 07:43 PM
To be fair, we have to keep in mind that Redman has been playing on a pulled groin since week 2 of preseason. Thus far, we have not seen his best either.

Some RBs can do fine with a pulled groin. Redman's main strength was his footwork and ability to use his center of gravity to keep his legs under him. With a pulled groin, his biggest tool is nullified.

Not making excuses, just pointing out that our run game is still a work in progress and no need to panic.

09-27-2012, 09:39 PM
The running game is doing exactly what its supposed to be doing in keeping the defence honest and keeping Ben upright, that and Miller being involved also. Something BA just couldn't figure out. When Mendy comes back, the running game will pick up and this offence will be dangerous IMHO....but the.defence??? That's another story....

Hawaii 5-0
09-28-2012, 08:26 PM
Willie Colon Blames Himself for Poor Running Game

by SteelBlitz

The Steelers are off to their worst start running the ball on offense in 62 years. A lot of the blame has been put on the Steelers being without starting running back Rashard Mendenhall, but the Steelers had him for 15 and a half games in 2011 and struggled to run the ball then too. In fact when the running back is being met in the backfield on almost every carry it is hard to place much of them blame on them at all.

During the last few drafts the Steelers have shown concern for the real problem: the offensive line. The Steelers have drafted Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro, and Mike Adams within the first two rounds of the last three drafts. They know that the run game starts up front and that Ben Roethlisberger needs more time to throw. However, DeCastro is out with a knee injury, Gilbert is battling a groin problem, and Adams was unable to win a job as a rookie. Heading into the season their was hope for the line and a lot of optimism. The Steelers would finally have a mauling pull guard in DeCastro, now out with an injury, and would have Willie Colon back, who had only played in one game during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

So why is the line still failing in the run game? Colon says to point the finger directly at him. Willie Colon made the move from right tackle to left guard with the hope that he would be able to anchor the position in place of the incumbent Chris Kemoeatu. Colon, however, has been anything but dominate in his first three games at left guard. He is failing to open holes, struggling as a pull guard, and being called for too many penalties.

When asked about playing left guard Colon said that the move is difficult and that he is still learning how to play his new position. Willie Colon admitted to having trouble getting used to pulling as a guard and said that he needs to do a better job of creating holes in the run game and of getting to the second level. Todd Haley’s playbook uses more of a zone blocking type scheme that calls for athletic lineman who can get to the second level and open up holes. Colon, as of now, is struggling with that, but he should continue to improve as he gets more playing time.

The return of Rashard Mendenhall may help some, but he can’t do everything himself. David DeCastro should return later in the year and we will be able to see how much his presence improves the running game. As of now it is up to the five guys on the field to make room for the running back to run and they have a tough task ahead of them with the Eagles front four next Sunday.


Millers the sh!t
09-29-2012, 10:23 AM
Maybe it's cause we played against 2 decent run defenses the first few games, had to abandon the run against Denver cause our defense made the shitty Peyton manning look like Peyton in his prime and score points on 5 drives in a row. then we played against a raiders secondary which sucks balls, and why not throw the ball 40 times against them? Especially when our defense couldn't give us a 3 and out to save our life....

tony hipchest
09-29-2012, 10:30 AM
Todd Haley’s playbook uses more of a zone blocking type scheme that calls for athletic lineman who can get to the second level and open up holes.

square pegs in round holes. willie, starks, gilbert are more power maulers in the old russ grimm/bill cowher mold.

09-29-2012, 03:09 PM
It might've helped if the Steelers brought in someone at RB with some pedigree. Brandon Jacobs was out there a while, a powerful bruising back that would make stubborn 70's yinzers giddy, and the Steelers skip over him. I really don't understand how they thought they were going to go back to "Stiller football" with Redman and Dwyer as the two best options.

09-29-2012, 03:31 PM
Struggling OL = Struggling Running Game :mad:
Fix one, fix the other. :yep:

Hawaii 5-0
09-30-2012, 05:47 PM
DeCastro returning would be a big help...

DeCastro walking without a limp five weeks after “severe” knee injury

Posted by Mike Florio on September 30, 2012


As if the sideline-level scouting report on WVU quarterback Geno Smith wasn’t enough to justify the write off, there was another nugget more closely related to the NFL that could make the entire day in Morgantown land in the deduction column on the 1040.

After the game, I spotted Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who was attending the game with his father, Oliver, the WVU Athletics Director. Andrew’s current team is on a bye, and with him was his former Stanford teammate, Steelers guard David DeCastro, whose pro team also is off this weekend.

DeCastro injured his knee badly during the preseason. Eventually, the Steelers placed him on injured reserve with the “designated for return” designation.

Five weeks removed from the injury, DeCastro was walking briskly without a limp as he and Luck left the stadium. Though it’s hardly evidence that he’ll be ready to go any time soon, with DeCastro able to return to play eight weeks after placement on IR (which happened nearly four weeks ago), he’s looking in street clothes like a guy who was never even injured.


Hawaii 5-0
10-02-2012, 03:58 PM
Rashard Mendenhall ready for return to Steelers

By Kareem Copeland
Published: Oct. 1, 2012

Running back Rashard Mendenhall is set to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers this week after ACL surgery in January. His return has been much-anticipated as the Steelers ranked the No. 31 rushing offense in the NFL.

The Steelers host the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday.

"I'm really just waiting on my opportunity," Mendenhall recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I just want to continue to work and, as we as an offense sort of form ourselves and bring the pieces together, I want to bring whatever piece I bring.

"But we struggled as a running game early in the season last year, and that's part of it. We just want to continue to grow and, as long as we get better and not worse, that's what we want to do. But we see it from a different light -- we see how close we are (to breaking out) so we just will keep working."

Mendenhall rushed for 1,100 yards in 2009 and 1,200 yards in 2010. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer haven't been very effective as replacement backs.

"Getting (Mendenhall) back is really going to help us," offensive lineman Doug Legursky said. "Not that the other two backs haven't done a good job because they have, but Rashard's explosion, his speed and his experience will really just add to it and make us that much better. He is one of those guys who is able to press the hole and he is also just speed around the edge where nobody is going to catch him.

"That makes him a dangerous piece to our offense, and we're excited about getting him back."

Mendenhall tore his ACL during the 2011 regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers now will have more talent at the position, but Mendenhall admitted all of his speed and cutting ability has not returned. He also hasn't played in new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's scheme. There will be a transitional period.


El-Gonzo Jackson
10-07-2012, 10:52 PM
Redman spins too much.

tony hipchest
10-07-2012, 11:32 PM
Redman spins too much.

:chuckle: i had to laugh today at aikman calling the game when he noted redman "spin" for a critical 1st down and mccoy "dance" for an even more critical 4th and 1 down conversion.

he must not know its all about suddeness and glide, not spin and dance.

Hawaii 5-0
10-09-2012, 07:57 PM
Roethlisberger thought Eagles were dirty, but OL protected well

Posted by Darin Gantt on October 9, 2012

The Steelers were able to keep their cool late, and pull out a win over the Eagles.

But that wasn’t the temperature throughout the game.

After stoning the Eagles’ pass rush all day (no sacks, just three hurries), the Steelers offensive line said they could sense frustration as they leaned on the Eagles.

After one of the rare pressures, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger popped up into the face of Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham.

“Yeah, Ben was mad. He thought they were going after his head,” Steelers guard Willie Colon said, via Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “They were cheap-shot artists all day. They were hitting us in the back. I know I lost my cool once or twice. It is what it is. You have to play through it.”

The Steelers offensive line did just that, protecting well and opening running lanes, despite the fact Colon was called for four holding penalties.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall was able to run for 5.8 yards per carry, and the protection they offered Roethlisberger was priceless.

That came after Steelers line coach Sean Kugler ranted at his men prior to a practice last week.

“He said he was embarrassed that we were ranked No. 32 in rushing in the league and that we should be embarrassed, too,” Colon said. “We’re talking about the Steelers, not the Saints. We’re supposed to be able to run the ball. We were responsible for that ranking, we had to own up to it and we had to do something about it.

“I like to think we did.”

It’s a group that has been maligned through the years, and Roethlisberger’s own mobility has as much to do with him avoiding some pressure as their protection, but they stood firm against the Eagles.