Why register with the Steelers Fever Forums?
 • Intelligent and friendly discussions.
 • It's free and it's quick. Always.
 • Enter events in the forums calendar.
 • Very user friendly software.
 • Exclusive contests and giveaways.

 Donate to Steelers Fever, Click here
 Our 2014 Goal: $450.00 - To Date: $450.00 (100.00%)
 Home | Forums | Editorials | Shop | Tickets | Downloads | Contact Pittsburgh Steelers Forum Feed Not Just Fans. Hardcore Fans.

Go Back   Steelers Fever Forums > Steelers Football > Pittsburgh Steelers


Steelers Fever Fan Shop

Doc's Sports Get FREE NFL Picks and College Football picks as well as Football Lines like live NFL Lines and updated NFL Power Rankings all at Doc's Sports Service.

Steelers

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 04-29-2008, 05:10 AM   #1
lamberts-lost-tooth
Banned
 
lamberts-lost-tooth's Avatar
 

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Midwest
Posts: 10,829
Gender: Male
Member Number: 2363
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default New Horses for Offense, Arians

New horses for offense, Arians
by Ed Bouchette

The NFL draft not only provided a rocket booster to the Steelers' offense, it might change their playbook. Get ready for the arrival of the Pony backfield, a concept that disappeared from the Steelers' playbook more than 15 years ago.

The idea of lining up two runners in the same backfield went out the window for the most part when Chuck Noll retired in 1991. Since then, the Steelers almost always paired a blocking fullback and a tailback, or deployed a one-back offense. The arrival of Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round of the draft Saturday changed all that.

Bruce Arians -- who called Mendenhall a bigger, faster Edgerrin James -- said he will dust off the Pony backfield portion of the playbook he used in Cleveland and try it next season. Mendenhall and Fast Willie Parker in the same backfield at the same time should give defenses plenty to think about.

"Other than the normal one-two punch, they can play together," offensive coordinator Arians said yesterday. "Rashard has enough size as a pass blocker and pass receiver and Willie is improving in that area every year as a receiver."

The Steelers' most famous one-two running punch was Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier in the 1970s. They became only the second teammates to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season in 1976 (it has been done twice since then). The Steelers had running pairs in the same backfield later, such as Frank Pollard and Walter Abercrombie/Earnest Jackson, and Merril Hoge and Tim Worley. The running duo, though, was phased out under coach Bill Cowher, whose coordinators believed in one runner and a blocking fullback.

The Steelers, though, have not had two halfbacks with such pedigrees in a long time. Parker made the past two Pro Bowls and ran for more than 1,200 yards in each of the past three seasons. Mendenhall, the first halfback the Steelers drafted in the first round since Worley in 1989, rushed for 1,681 yards last season and caught 34 passes.

Each can block and catch well enough to make a go of it, Arians said.

"They could block for each other. Willie is capable. You're not going to ask him to lead on the linebacker, but he can handle certain things.

"Again, it'll be a package. It won't be the focal point of the offense because you'd beat the two guys up. But it gives you another package, and in the middle of the season if you lose somebody you have a package you can go to."

Understandably, Arians was overjoyed with the selections of Mendenhall (at No. 23) and wide receiver Limas Sweed (at No. 53) in the second round. The Steelers had those players rated much higher than they were taken.

"I was shocked," Arians said. "It was because of the run on linemen. People panicked. I called it a panic attack on offensive linemen. All of a sudden guys were trading away future picks and stuff to go get one of those tackles because this was the year to get a tackle. And when it happened, the tremendous skill guys dropped. Man, they were passing them up."

Arians was an assistant coach in Indianapolis when the Colts made James the fourth overall pick of the 1999 draft.

He said he rated Mendenhall "a bigger, faster Edgerrin James" and at 225 he can probably add another 5 pounds.

"He's 10 pounds heavier than Edge was and a tenth faster. He has those types of hands and power. Edge, I thought, did as good a job as anybody running the clock out, when he was in Indianapolis for sure. Being able to split out of the backfield is a unique kind of talent."

Parker said the week before the draft that adding another good running back might help extend his career by sharing the load.

"He extends Willie's career, for sure," Arians said. "And it's not like just taking Willie out of the game and putting in a sub, you're putting in a high-caliber guy, close to him, yet different."

Sweed gives the Steelers more depth, another deep threat and the kind of target Ben Roethlisberger wanted, not only a tall receiver at 6-foot-4 but one who has a wide range. Arians calls it the hula-hoop theory, a receiver who extends the area around him in which he can catch the ball. He said Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes also have that ability, in smaller packages.

"Then you don't have to put it on the money every time," Arians said. "You can throw a little behind on purpose -- this kid has that kind of talent."

The two electric additions to his offense should help strike that balance between the run and the pass and also make it more versatile, Arians said. And holding leads in the second half might just have become easier.

"There are a lot of ways to kill the clock; it's just a matter of making first downs," Arians said. "The sure-fire way is if you can beat somebody to death. We were able do that in September and October, and we were not able to do that in December and January for a number of reasons. It is something we were not accustomed to."


The NFL draft not only provided a rocket booster to the Steelers' offense, it might change part of their playbook. Get ready for the arrival of the Pony backfield, a concept that disappeared from the Steelers' playbook more than 15 years ago.

The idea of lining up two runners in the same backfield went out the window for the most part when Chuck Noll retired in 1991. Since then, the Steelers almost always paired a blocking fullback and a tailback, or deployed a one-back offense. The arrival of Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round of the draft Saturday changed all that.

Bruce Arians -- who called Mendenhall a bigger, faster Edgerrin James -- said he will dust off the Pony backfield portion of the playbook he used in Cleveland and try it next season. Mendenhall and Fast Willie Parker in the same backfield at the same time should give defenses plenty to think about.

"Other than the normal one-two punch, they can play together," offensive coordinator Arians said yesterday. "Rashard has enough size as a pass blocker and pass receiver and Willie is improving in that area every year as a receiver."

The Steelers' most famous one-two running punch was Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier in the 1970s. They became only the second teammates to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season in 1976 (it has been done twice since then). The Steelers had running pairs in the same backfield later, such as Frank Pollard and Walter Abercrombie/Earnest Jackson, and Merril Hoge and Tim Worley. The running duo, though, was phased out under coach Bill Cowher, whose coordinators believed in one runner and a blocking fullback.

The Steelers, though, have not had two halfbacks with such pedigrees in a long time. Parker made the past two Pro Bowls and ran for more than 1,200 yards in each of the past three seasons. Mendenhall, the first halfback the Steelers drafted in the first round since Worley in 1989, rushed for 1,681 yards last season and caught 34 passes.

Each can block well enough and catch to make a go of it, Arians said.

"They could block for each other. Willie is capable. You're not going to ask him to lead on the linebacker, but he can handle certain things.

"Again, it'll be a package. It won't be the focal point of the offense because you'd beat the two guys up. But it gives you another package, and in the middle of the season if you lose somebody you have a package you can go to."

Understandably, Arians was overjoyed with the selections of Mendenhall (at No. 23) and wide receiver Limas Sweed (at No. 53) in the second round. The Steelers had those players rated much higher than they were taken.

"I was shocked," Arians said. "It was because of the run on linemen. People panicked. I called it a panic attack on offensive linemen. All of a sudden guys were trading away future picks and stuff to go get one of those tackles because this was the year to get a tackle. And when it happened, the tremendous skill guys dropped. Man, they were passing them up."

Arians was an assistant coach in Indianapolis when the Colts made James the fourth overall pick of the 1999 draft.

He said he rated Mendenhall "a bigger, faster Edgerrin James" and at 225 he can probably add another 5 pounds.

"He's 10 pounds heavier than Edge was and a tenth faster. He has those types of hands and power. Edge, I thought, did as good a job as anybody running the clock out, when he was in Indianapolis for sure. Being able to split out of the backfield is a unique kind of talent."

Parker said the week before the draft that adding another good running back might help extend his career by sharing the load.

"He extends Willie's career, for sure," Arians said. "And it's not like just taking Willie out of the game and putting in a sub, you're putting in a high-caliber guy, close to him, yet different."

Sweed gives the Steelers more depth, another deep threat and the kind of target Ben Roethlisberger wanted, not only a tall receiver at 6-4 but one who has a wide range. Arians calls it the hula-hoop theory, a receiver who extends the area around him in which he can catch the ball. He said Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes also have that ability, in smaller packages.

"Then you don't have to put it on the money every time," Arians said. "You can throw a little behind on purpose -- this kid has that kind of talent."

The two electric additions to his offense should help strike that balance between the run and the pass and also make it more versatile, Arians said. And holding leads in the second half might just have become easier.

"There are a lot of ways to kill the clock; it's just a matter of making first downs," Arians said. "The sure-fire way is if you can beat somebody to death. We were able do that in September and October, and we were not able to do that in December and January for a number of reasons. It is something we were not accustomed to."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08120/877467-66.stm
lamberts-lost-tooth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2008, 05:21 AM   #2
Galax Steeler
The Virginia Hillbilly
Supporter
 
Galax Steeler's Avatar
 

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Galax Va
Posts: 105,012
Gender: Male
Member Number: 3287
Thanks: 1,370
Thanked 3,880 Times in 1,626 Posts
My Mood: Lurking
Default Re: New Horses for Offense, Arians

Already posted under arians has plans.
Galax Steeler is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2008, 06:42 AM   #3
Elvis
Banned
 
Elvis's Avatar
 

Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: NC
Posts: 3,645
Gender: Male
Member Number: 2390
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default Re: New Horses for Offense, Arians

I think the thought of having Parker and Mendenhall in the same backfield will not last long. We hear every offseason that the Steelers are gonna pass to the TE more also. I think that the Steelers style is a RB-FB duo and I dont see Mendenhall or Parker blocking well enough. Just my thoughts though, it could work and I have been wrong before.
Elvis is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:35 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Shoutbox provided by vBShout v6.2.1 (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.0.8 (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd. Runs best on HiVelocity Hosting.
Navbar with Avatar by Motorradforum
no new posts