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Old 09-22-2009, 08:22 PM   #1
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Default RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?
http://community.post-gazette.com/bl...k/default.aspx
By Bob Smizik | Tuesday, 12:30 a.m.

Thereís nothing quite like a defeat, particularly to the Super Bowl champions in the second game of the season, to stir things up.

Gone are the days when everything was running so smoothly that the Steelers were considered boring.

Following their 17-14 loss to the Chicago Bears Sunday, there were daunting questions all around for the Steelers.

* Will opponents find strong safety Tyrone Carter, playing in place of injured Troy Polamalu, a weak link in the heretofore mighty Steelers defense?

* Or is it just that age has caught up with what was the best defense in the NFL?

* Off his 39-yard run that set up a touchdown, is Rashard Mendenhall set to replace Willie Parker at Rashard Mendenhallrunning back?

Well, of course, teams are going to pick on Carter. Heís a career backup filling in for a future Hall of Famer. Carter, who injured his thigh against the Bears, can be exploited. He also made some good plays Sunday.

I suggested before last season that the Steelers defense might be too old and I wonít make that mistake again. Sure, they gave up a 97-yard touchdown drive. Did anyone think that couldnít happen this year even with Polamalu? The fact remains the defense has allowed only three touchdowns in two games facing better-than-average competition.

There will be no dismissing the running back situation in one paragraph. This is a controversy into which one can sink his teeth.

The case can be made that after five NFL seasons, four as a starter on a team that emphasizes the run, Parker could be in decline. Running backs have a short shelf life in the NFL and shorter still when they weigh less than 210 pounds. After playing little as a rookie, Parker had three excellent seasons and then an injury-marred and average one in 2008.

Was 2008 an aberration or a view of what was to come?

Letís examine that season. After coming back from injury, Parker played in 11 of the teamís final 12 games. He gained 774 yards on 214 carries, a not-so-good 3.6-yard average. In those 11 games, he had four good ones, two average ones and five bad ones.

The good ones, in which he averaged 5.1 yards per carry, were twice against San Diego and once against Cleveland and New England. San Diego had the No. 11 rushing defense, New England No. 15 and Cleveland No. 28.

In the five bad games, against Arizona, Baltimore twice, Tennessee and Cincinnati, he averaged 2.2 yards a carry. Baltimore had the No. 3 rushing defense, Tennessee No. 6, Washington No. 8 and Arizona No. 16.

What does it all mean? Parker has trouble getting yards against good teams. Thatís the case with a lot of backs, but not the great ones. It also could mean that, yes, he is in decline.

So what about Mendenhall, the teamís No 1 draft choice last season who clearly was selected to eventually replace Parker? He had that splendid 39-yard run and a fine run after a pass reception when he turned nothing into a good play.

But he also had other runs that werenít so good. Hereís what Ed Bouchette, my favorite expert, wrote in his blog on PG+:

``Just a few quick observations on Rashard Mendenhall. I do not want to be picky; he did have a nice run of 39 yards after he broke into the open down the right side. But what was he doing watching safety Kevin Payne as he drew closer to the end zone? It looked perhaps as if he would stiff-arm Payne, but that never happened.

``On one of his two other carries, Mendenhall took the handoff then seemed to lean into the line sideways. On the other, he took the handoff and did a 360 spin before running into the line. Those two runs gained 0 yards.íí

This would strongly indicate Mendenhall is not ready to replace Parker. Furthermore, there is still not a clear case that states Parkerís best days are in the past -- although they might be.

Iíve been a supporter of Parker and remain so. But coach Mike Tomlin has implemented a plan of using Mendenhall every third series. That seems fair. Let the two compete in that very open style and maybe that competition will spur one or both to better things.
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

"Let the two compete in that very open style and maybe that competition will spur one or both to better things."

Perhaps that will wake Willie up.
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

or put him to sleep...
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

Mendenhall needs to get more touches. Why use a first round draft pick on a guy and then not even let him touch the ball? It's not like as if Willie is doing anything. Let them rotate until one proves to be the better man for the job.
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Old 09-22-2009, 11:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

i love willie parker, and im not ready to give up on him, but mendenhall has the ability to be the starter, but hes not showing it yet, i wanna see parker put up another 100 yd game on the bungles, a team hes killed in the past
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Old 09-23-2009, 12:22 AM   #6
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

A running back controversy in a game where both RB's basically had one good run?

Hmmmm
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Old 09-23-2009, 01:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mesaSteeler View Post
What does it all mean? Parker has trouble getting yards against good teams. Thatís the case with a lot of backs, but not the great ones. It also could mean that, yes, he is in decline.
Well, obviously this guy is a moron doesn't know what he's talking about.

I mean, every time I say that, I'm told I don't know what I'm talking about. Right?
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Old 09-23-2009, 03:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

I have said it before in other threads, Mendenhall needs more touches instead of 4 or 5 a game. If you think back to last year which was his rookie year he had hardly any touches. This year he is getting very few. We need to feed him the ball more and let him get the feel for the game.
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Old 09-23-2009, 04:27 AM   #9
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

Right now we need them both. They're all we have.
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Old 09-23-2009, 04:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: RB controversy: Parker or Mendenhall?

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Originally Posted by Galax Steeler View Post
I have said it before in other threads, Mendenhall needs more touches instead of 4 or 5 a game.
And that is the only way Mendenhall is going to get more comfortable in our offense and given the chance to make plays. He is a player and just needs more touches.
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