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Old 09-12-2009, 03:01 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Can running game get any worse?

Can running game get any worse?
Friday, September 11, 2009
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09254/997255-150.stm

Maybe it was the fact that the Tennessee Titans were breaking off gains that averaged 10 yards on first down early in the NFL's first act of 2009, and maybe it was the stark contrast to a Steelers offense that looked as if it had sprung right off the schoolyards of Findlay, Ohio, but you sure got the feeling something wasn't right about opening night.

Even before Troy Polamalu left with an ominous knee injury just before intermission, the Steelers were already in a world of trouble.

This is no startling stunt of clairvoyance, but teams that average 1.6 yards per rush over 60-plus supposedly professional minutes, slightly less than what you'd get by falling flat on your face from the line of scrimmage, are probably going to struggle over the next four months.

Not to be critical.

"You don't want to base everything in your offense off the no-huddle," Steelers left tackle Max Starks was saying of the shaggy path to a 13-10 overtime victory. "We don't play against a lot of 4-3 defenses in the preseason or in training camp. We don't see a lot of eight or nine-man fronts because everyone is so vanilla. We'll clean it up."

Maybe, but it'll take all available hours in the 10-day gap between last night and a Soldier Field appointment with the Chicago Bears a week from Sunday.

Generally, the first Steelers game column of the year turns deftly on the performance of Fast Willie Parker, who turns in an inaugural three-digit number with metronomic consistency in the most conspicuously challenging circumstances: 161 yards, 115, 109, 138.

Last night, something like 138 might have been achievable again -- on maybe 138 carries.

In danger of losing their first home opener since a Sept. 3, 2000, skunking by the Baltimore Ravens and perhaps oblivious to the fact that teams that lose the opener are less than half as likely to reach the playoffs as teams that win it, the Steelers allowed their running game to evaporate into the North Side darkness with stunning quickness.

It's not new that the Bruce Arians offense throws it better than it bangs it, and its NFL ranking of 23rd in rushing last year was widely lamented as depressingly un-Steelerworthy. But as the world knows and a sixth Lombardi Trophy will attest, you can get away with it.

Maybe you can get away with the 23rd-best ground game in a 32-team league, but can you get away with 32nd?

You might find out, unless, of course, someone up front eventually gets around to knocking somebody backward.

Check back in a few weeks.

"Obviously, we'd like to run the ball a whole lot better," said tight end Heath Miller, who caught eight of Ben Roethlisberger's 33 completions for 64 yards. "Ben's the best player in the offense, so we play to his strengths. But we're still capable of running the ball. The running game is very complicated. If one guy gets beat, it breaks down."

A lot of guys got beat last night.

Parker had eight carries in the first half, resulting in 9 yards. Rashard Mendenhall had two carries in the first 30 minutes, gaining 3, but in fairness to the former No. 1 pick out of Illinois, he could easily have had 4 yards or more had he not run directly into Roethlisberger on his first official rushing attempt of 2009. Few, if any, of the 65,110 on hand paid good money hoping to see Big Ben make a tackle, particularly in his own backfield, but that play typified the ground game.

By the time Tennessee's Rob Bironas thumped home a 45-yard field goal just to snap a 7-7 tie early in the fourth quarter, the Steelers had run the ball 17 times with 13 of those plays gaining 3 yards or less.

Parker's longest gain of the night, a semi-nifty 9-yarder, was halved by a holding penalty on Hines Ward.

It was borderline miraculous for this team to win 15 games a year ago with a running game that was mostly a rumor (the Steelers got two 100-yard rushing performances in the season's final 10 games); it'll be something else entirely to win with one that's a grade one toxin.

In the second half, Mike Tomlin gave Parker and Mendenhall every opportunity to establish something behind an offensive line that was taking cover. Parker gained 8 yards on his first carry, but in the only sequence in which he carried on three consecutive plays, gained 1 yard total on the final two and forced still another punt. Arians maintained his patience, sending Willie up the middle for 4 on the next possession, and Willie lost 3 on the next carry.

Cue Mendenhall.

Three yards, then no yards.

Mewelde Moore anyone?

Mewelde was pretty much Moore of the same, turning third-and-1 at the Tennessee 9 late in the game into fourth-and-1 with little difficulty.

"We're not going to abandon anything that we believe in and we set out to do in any given week," Tomlin said of his persistence in the face of powerful evidence. "I ask our guys to play like that and I have to coach like that. As good a defensive front as Tennessee has, we've got to do a better job if we're going to show up consistently in victory lane."

While all this was going on, Roethlisberger played 60-plus minutes of schoolyard ball, running for his life in spots and working on his improvisational skills in others, getting just enough time to find just enough open people to keep the Steelers in the game. Ward's last minute fumble inside the Titans' 5 looked as though it would be remembered as lethal, but the running game had long since sucked the life from the offense.

That Ben resuscitated it enough to steer it 63 yards on 10 plays in overtime was a small victory. Luckily he ran only two running plays, which picked up another 3 yards.


Gene Collier can be reached at gcollier@post-gazette.com. More articles by this author
Gene Collier's Two-Minute Warning is featured on PG

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09254...#ixzz0Qv88AuGF
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Old 09-12-2009, 03:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

Hines Ward said the running game must get better. (I can't remember in which of the dozen articles I read today). There will be times when the weather will be bad and we have to be able to run the ball effectively and not rely on a game in the air. He is right.

It's early, kids. We have time to get r' done. It's hard for us Steelers fans to be patient and let something develop.

We want perfection. Now.
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Old 09-12-2009, 03:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

to answer your question in the title, no there is no way it can get worse.
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Old 09-12-2009, 03:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PalmerSteel View Post
to answer your question in the title, no there is no way it can get worse.
fumbles on every exchange or a negative average per carry would be worse
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Old 09-12-2009, 03:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PalmerSteel View Post
to answer your question in the title, no there is no way it can get worse.
O my god this getting out of hand. I know the trolls do this once we lose a game, but after a win against a good team!
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Old 09-12-2009, 04:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stillers4me View Post
We want perfection. Now.
Not directing this at you, Sue, as I know without a shadow of a doubt that you are die-hard like me, but Steelers fans wanting and EXPECTING perfection from their team is a problem with regard to some of the idiotic posts we see around here. We weren't perfect in '05 - we won a Super Bowl. We weren't perfect last season and lo and behold - we won another Super Bowl. I'm patient enough and realize that there are still 15 more regular season games to be played and will stay in the "wait and see" mode for the next several games. No need to panic . . . yet.
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Old 09-12-2009, 05:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

Tennessee has a great run defense , everybit as good as Pittsburghs , dont be to critical just yet , it was only the first real game of the year , preseason is a fluke and is to showcase guys that will need another job , and rookies trying to adjust

these players finally got they're first real dose and it had to come against a Great run defense , yes they were pretty horrid , but wait a little and let them gel , then react

dont be so quick to judge
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Old 09-12-2009, 05:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
Not directing this at you, Sue, as I know without a shadow of a doubt that you are die-hard like me, but Steelers fans wanting and EXPECTING perfection from their team is a problem with regard to some of the idiotic posts we see around here. We weren't perfect in '05 - we won a Super Bowl. We weren't perfect last season and lo and behold - we won another Super Bowl. I'm patient enough and realize that there are still 15 more regular season games to be played and will stay in the "wait and see" mode for the next several games. No need to panic . . . yet.
i couldnt have said it better myself...there are some people on here that will never be satisfied with anything, a win is a win. Could the running game improve, of course, but were only one game into the season, and the first game was against one of the toughest rush defenses in the league. I had my first experience with the gameday thread on thursday, usually i am not near a computer during the game....i had to quit reading it because of the ridiculous negativity..........we are defending superbowl champions, and have started the season 1-0, i for one am damn proud of the steelers
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Old 09-12-2009, 05:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

Falcons release Verron Haynes

The Falcons released fullback Verron Haynes on Saturday, the team confirmed.

http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-fa...s_sports_82014

-------------------------------------------------------------

OMG a Fatback! We gotta git....

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Good old Vernon Hayes
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: Can running game get any worse?

If FWP doesn't last the year, expect Red Zone to be called up. Moore is Mr. Reliable and a great FA pick up. He is also Tomlin's guy whereas FWP is probably not.

Looked like FWP was not running with heart especially when he went down on a shoestring tackle in the backfield. Two years ago he would have juked and jived to the outside and got the yards. The last good game he had was against the Chargers in the playoffs. He has become inconsistant WP.

Moore can also catch out of the backfield and hold onto the ball after being hit. On paper, FWP might still be the #1 RB, but in reality Coach is going to put the RB on the field that gives up the best chance to win. And a few people are going to have to deal with that reality.
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