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Old 01-10-2010, 09:35 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_661512.html#
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, January 10, 2010

The four teams that received first-round byes in the NFL playoffs have a combined record of 52-12. To say they ran over the competition en route to the postseason would not be entirely accurate.

All of those teams have won big by using the pass as their primary mode of moving the ball. Their success may initiate what could be considered a seismic shift in strategy if it hasn't already happened.

The Indianapolis Colts are challenging the long-standing football tenet that victory is directly proportional to a team's ability to run the ball. Indianapolis finished the regular season with a 14-2 record despite ranking 31st out of 32 teams in rushing offense.

The Peyton Manning-led Colts were No. 2 in passing offense, and of the eight division winners, only the Cincinnati Bengals did not rank in the top 10 in that category.

The Bengals are ranked last among the 12 playoff teams by Las Vegas oddsmakers, according to gaming expert R.J. Bell of pregame.com.

"I've said a thousand times, the league evolves offensively and defensively," said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for a franchise-record 4,328 yards this season. "And you have to keep up with Indianapolis, the (New Orleans) Saints, teams like that. Because if you don't, you are going to be left behind."

The passing sensibility that has gripped the NFL is evident even with a team such as the 12-4 Minnesota Vikings.

While Adrian Peterson rushed for almost 1,400 yards this season, quarterback Brett Favre became the centerpiece of the Vikings' offense. Minnesota ranked eighth in the NFL in passing offense.

"I think what people are starting to see is that 'three or four yards and a cloud of dust' is not good enough anymore, and that we need chunk plays," said Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, whose team finished 7-9 despite ranking fourth in rushing offense.

The Steelers, who have long been associated with a smash-mouth ethos, appeared to embrace that concept this season as they finished seventh in passing offense.

More and more, defenses are daring teams to throw, which often results in bigger passing numbers.

"If you get eight in the box, that means there's three covering, and you have three receivers," Philadelphia Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver said. "So if you have those odds, that's exactly what you'll take."

The odds are further stacked against defensive backs because of rules that are geared toward more scoring and higher TV ratings.

Defensive players are not allowed to initiate contact with a receiver beyond 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. A pass interference penalty, meanwhile, is a spot foul; in college it is a 15-yard infraction.

"If you're smart, you've got to take advantage of that," Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said of the rules that help passing offenses. "You can't really touch the receiver after five yards, and if you breathe on them, you get a flag. You'd be crazy not to take advantage of that."

More and more teams are doing just that, said Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior, a 13-year veteran.

"When I first came into the league, there was a lot more running involved," he said. "I think with the type of athletes we have on offense, you're more apt to go to for big plays. The main guy on the field is the quarterback, and they want to throw the ball 100,000 times a game."

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers set career highs this season in passing attempts (486) and yards (4,254), and he is a major reason why the Chargers take an 11-game winning streak into the postseason.

Rivers has taken over an offense that not too long ago ran through running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's MVP in 2006.

But Rivers said the running game is still vital to the Chargers' offense, which works best off play-action passes.

That teams are not about to abandon the run can be seen in what happened with the Steelers last week. Coach Mike Tomlin considered going in another direction with the offense even though the Steelers had their first 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and 1,000-yard rusher in franchise history.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is returning for at least one more season, but the Steelers could put more of an emphasis on running the ball in 2010.

"Teams still run the ball," Trotter said. "They have to establish the run. But a lot of times you see teams in passing sets and run the ball that way. It's the nature of the beast."

Passing interest

Top passing teams are also among the best teams in the NFL this season. Here is a look at such teams compared with teams that were the most successful running the ball:

Combined record of top 10 passing teams: 113-47

Combined record of top 10 running teams: 87-73

Playoff teams among top 10 passing teams: 8

Playoff teams among the top 10 running teams: 5

Teams with a winning record among top 10 passing teams: 10

Teams with a winning record among top 10 running teams: 5

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

Hey Scott, keep your silly stats to yourself. You know better than to bring stats and facts into an argument, especially if they are in support of BA. He should have been fired the second the Ravens game ended on Sunday night!
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

and the ratbirds just beat the pass happy cheaters with only 4 completions for 38 yds....
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

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and the ratbirds just beat the pass happy cheaters with only 4 completions for 38 yds....
Which, of course, is going to happen each and every time.

Still don't know why so many of you are afraid of passing the ball more...
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:15 PM   #5
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Default Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

I choose to ignore facts and stats and base my views purely on the emotional impact it has on me, thx
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:11 AM   #6
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Default Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

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Which, of course, is going to happen each and every time.

Still don't know why so many of you are afraid of passing the ball more...
hey i'm not against the forward pass...whatever moves the chains and scores TD's works for me....17th in 3rd down conv, and less than 50% in the redzone , tells me that something ain't quite right with the system. i'm not advocating going back to the 3 yds and a cloud of dust cowher ball. but they need to pick there poison a little better in situations. going shotgun an empty backfield on 3rd and short is just stupid football. it doesn't take a professional to realize that.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

Passing the ball isn't bad, but you have to be good at it :]
Ben is a great quarterback, but the years the Steelers past the ball more are the years we didn't make the playoffs. We don't have a finess enough defense to hold big leads. Most 3-4 defenses aren't built to hold leads. Did anyone see the Packer/Cardinal game? they both had 3-4 defenses, and at points of the game the Cards defense were dominant, and later in the game the Packer defense was Dominant, but when it became a shootout, both defenses fell.

When a team passes a lot, they tend to get an early lead, when that happens, the other team passes a lot to catch up. Unless you have a good pass defense, you'll lose, and the Steelers pretty much showed that the whole 2009 season. Until the Steelers figure out a way to strengthen the pass defense, and not just by blitzing every play, we'll fail as a passing team.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:39 AM   #8
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Thumbs up Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with passing the ball. But if you become one dimensional as a passing team, history tells us you're not gonna win anymore Superbowls than if you are a one dimensional running team. Last years Steelers and the Colts from 2 years before are the only teams in the last 15 years that won the Superbowl with a rushing attack that wasn't in the top 3rd of the league. You need to be able to do both effectively and be able to gameplan appropriately (Bruce, 30 mile per hour winds and 20 degree temps do merit running the ball just a tad). If we run the ball well, Ben will be even MORE effective. Everybody remembers the Rams "Greatest Show on Turf" that scored over 500 pts 3 straight years...2 of those years they were in the top 5 in rushing yardage. If THAT'S what the Steelers put together, they'll get no argument from me...lol
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

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I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with passing the ball. But if you become one dimensional as a passing team, history tells us you're not gonna win anymore Superbowls than if you are a one dimensional running team. Last years Steelers and the Colts from 2 years before are the only teams in the last 15 years that won the Superbowl with a rushing attack that wasn't in the top 3rd of the league. You need to be able to do both effectively and be able to gameplan appropriately (Bruce, 30 mile per hour winds and 20 degree temps do merit running the ball just a tad). If we run the ball well, Ben will be even MORE effective. Everybody remembers the Rams "Greatest Show on Turf" that scored over 500 pts 3 straight years...2 of those years they were in the top 5 in rushing yardage. If THAT'S what the Steelers put together, they'll get no argument from me...lol
Again, the "Greatest Show on Turf" had the one thing the Steelers do not have - a great OL. That's why they were able to run the ball as effectively as they passed it. The Steelers do NOT have such a line, so they have to rely on the pass more in order to move the ball. Of course that Rams offense is what I'd like to see here, but the OL has to improve if they want to get anywhere near that point.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

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Again, the "Greatest Show on Turf" had the one thing the Steelers do not have - a great OL. That's why they were able to run the ball as effectively as they passed it. The Steelers do NOT have such a line, so they have to rely on the pass more in order to move the ball. Of course that Rams offense is what I'd like to see here, but the OL has to improve if they want to get anywhere near that point.
Umm, they also had a guy named Marshall Faulk. You know, the rb.
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