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Old 12-11-2009, 11:07 PM   #1
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Default Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_657438.html#
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, December 12, 2009

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall averaged four yards on his first four carries against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. It stood to reason that Mendenhall could push the pile on third-and-1 on the Steelers' opening drive.

Mendenhall never received the opportunity.

Instead, the Steelers spread the field with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger operating from the shotgun. Roethlisberger was sacked for a 9-yard loss.

"You figure that is a run down. Third-and-1, that's usually a down for our running backs,'' right tackle Willie said Colon, shrugging his shoulders.

"We're just flat-out trying to get this monkey off our backs. He don't want to leave us,'' Colon said.

The next time the Steelers had the ball, Mendenhall gained seven yards on two rushes. On third-and-3, Roethlisberger worked from the shotgun and was sacked for a 10-yard loss.

Coach Mike Tomlin offered a curious explanation for those two play calls:

"Hindsight is 20/20.''

Apparently, so is common sense.

Instead of trying to overpower Cleveland at the point of attack and sending a positive message to a struggling team, the Steelers attempted to finesse an opponent that had served as their personal welcome mat for years.

"Early on, we had some looks that we wanted to catch them on and thought we could get the ball out of our hands quickly,'' Tomlin said. "We lost a few opportunities, and guys didn't come open, and we got sacked. We couldn't get the run game going that we felt pretty good about going into the game ''

Whatever happened to Tomlin's former battle cry of winning the war of attrition?


Correct me if I'm wrong, but we haven't heard that expression since the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII.

The Steelers' offensive linemen are built for the running game. So why aren't the Steelers running more?

It isn't a coincidence that the Steelers offense has struggled all year to attain a comfort level since de-emphasizing the run.

How did the Steelers expect to establish their running game against Cleveland by passing on third-and-1 and third-and-3 early in the game?

The Steelers rushed 22 times for 75 yards in a 13-6 loss to the Browns.

Roethlisberger was 18 of 32 for 201 yards. He was sacked a season-high eight times.

"You want to be able to run the ball against these guys. We run the ball on them every year,'' said backup running back Willie Parker, who had reeled off five consecutive 100-yard games against Cleveland entering this season (including a 223-yard gem in 2006).

"It's just something where you want to stick to the run and keep pounding. But we didn't make enough plays when we were running. We had a lot of mistakes.''

The Steelers have been talking in the past tense a lot lately.

What they used to do, and how they used to play. It's enough to give the Steeler Nation pause and yearn for when the offense ran the ball they way the Steelers now emphasize the passing game like it's going out of style.

With three games to play, it's probably too late to expect the Steelers to suddenly stop passing and return to the run exclusively.

But it sure would be nice to see them develop a better balance between the run and the pass, if for no other reason than to have something positive to build upon entering next season.

After all, the Steelers aren't paying Mendenhall all that money not to touch the ball.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

( "the Steelers attempted to finesse an opponent". Since when are the Steelers a "finesse" team? Bring back SMASHMOUTH. - mesa)
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

(not at you mesa, at the article).

Really... Is Harris trying to tell me that 2 more run plays a game would have us win games? Is THAT the magic formula?

Because between now and 2006, the variant in the run game is just that, 2 more runs per game. 29 in 2006, 27 and a half in 2007. 28.75 in 2008, and 27 runs in 2009.

Seems to me, we made the playoffs in 2007 (with a lot of injuries... our star RB out with a broken leg, Ryan Clark out, etc.) and then WON the sb in 2008 with just an average of 1.75 more runs a game.

Sorry, Harris, I don't buy that "Run the Ball to win" stuff anymore. Watch the playoffs this year AGAIN. The teams that win, are going to be BALANCED teams, not RUN TEAMS.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

The Steelers were balanced early in the year. Sure enough, we were winning.

Then as the season wore on, we kept getting more and more pass-happy.

The Offense needs balance, and that starts with resurrecting a running game.
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Old 12-12-2009, 12:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edman View Post
The Steelers were balanced early in the year. Sure enough, we were winning.

Then as the season wore on, we kept getting more and more pass-happy.
That's fairly inaccurate. While I agree that we've resorted to some awful nonsensical & unnecessary passing plays on third downs & in the red zone, we really haven't become more pass-happy as a whole. Our balance remained pretty consistent all year, both in losses & in wins.

Week 1 - 65% pass
Week 2 - 61% pass
Week 3 - 53% pass
Week 4 - 48% pass
Week 5 - 64% pass
Week 6 - 57% pass
Week 7 - 59% pass
Week 8 - Bye
Week 9 - 50% pass
Week 10 - 69% pass
Week 11 - 58% pass
Week 12 - 41% pass
Week 13 - 47% pass
Week 14 - 59% pass

Average in games that we've won = 57% pass
Average in games that we've lost = 55% pass
Average in our 5-game losing streak = 54% pass
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Old 12-12-2009, 12:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

Blah, double post.
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Old 12-12-2009, 02:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atranox View Post
That's fairly inaccurate. While I agree that we've resorted to some awful nonsensical & unnecessary passing plays on third downs & in the red zone, we really haven't become more pass-happy as a whole. Our balance remained pretty consistent all year, both in losses & in wins.

Week 1 - 65% pass
Week 2 - 61% pass
Week 3 - 53% pass
Week 4 - 48% pass
Week 5 - 64% pass
Week 6 - 57% pass
Week 7 - 59% pass
Week 8 - Bye
Week 9 - 50% pass
Week 10 - 69% pass
Week 11 - 58% pass
Week 12 - 41% pass
Week 13 - 47% pass
Week 14 - 59% pass

Average in games that we've won = 57% pass
Average in games that we've lost = 55% pass
Average in our 5-game losing streak = 54% pass
Your numbers are wrong. People seem to forget that sacks are pass plays (as are busted pass plays where Ben has to scramble and run). If you add in the 8 sacks, we passed 65% of the time. If you were able to isolate and enumerate the busted plays, in this game and others, all of your passing percentages would be much higher.

We've been a lot more pass-happy than some seem to want to realize or accept.
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Old 12-12-2009, 08:51 AM   #7
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

How funny that the last time we shrugged off the run for the pass we had a pathetic season too!
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Old 12-12-2009, 12:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

John Harris is really reaching in that article.
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Old 12-12-2009, 04:10 PM   #9
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

Quote:
Originally Posted by Preacher View Post
(not at you mesa, at the article).

Really... Is Harris trying to tell me that 2 more run plays a game would have us win games? Is THAT the magic formula?

Because between now and 2006, the variant in the run game is just that, 2 more runs per game. 29 in 2006, 27 and a half in 2007. 28.75 in 2008, and 27 runs in 2009.

Seems to me, we made the playoffs in 2007 (with a lot of injuries... our star RB out with a broken leg, Ryan Clark out, etc.) and then WON the sb in 2008 with just an average of 1.75 more runs a game.

Sorry, Harris, I don't buy that "Run the Ball to win" stuff anymore. Watch the playoffs this year AGAIN. The teams that win, are going to be BALANCED teams, not RUN TEAMS.
I don't think that Harris is trying to say that running in those two key situations would have won the game. If you read the article objectively, you'll find that he's saying that doing so would have set the tone, not resulted in 9 and 10 yard losses, and would have given the Steelers a better chance at converting the down. I agree with this assesment.
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Old 12-12-2009, 04:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: Harris: Abandoning run leads to lost season

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcsteel5804 View Post
I don't think that Harris is trying to say that running in those two key situations would have won the game. If you read the article objectively, you'll find that he's saying that doing so would have set the tone, not resulted in 9 and 10 yard losses, and would have given the Steelers a better chance at converting the down. I agree with this assesment.
Agreed. We had a back averaging 4+ yrds per carry come on!
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