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Old 02-02-2010, 06:21 AM   #1
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Default Steelers commit to re-establishing run

Steelers commit to re-establishing run
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...nt_665114.html
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

MIAMI -- The New York Jets led the NFL in rushing this season by following a similar approach to one taken by the Steelers in 2004. Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca played on both teams, and he might have trouble recognizing his former one.

The Steelers passed the ball 56 percent of the time in 2009 -- they passed more than any other Steelers team in the 2000s -- and that stands in stark contrast to the team running the ball 68 percent of the time in 2004.

Such a discrepancy may show how far the Steelers have strayed from the philosophy of pounding opposing teams with the run -- and from themselves, as team president Art Rooney II recently suggested.


Rooney said one of the top Steelers' top priorities during the offseason will be moving toward a more run-oriented attack
, a process that started with the hiring of new offensive line coach Sean Kugler last month. :appla udit:

"I think we've got to get better at the run," Steelers tight end Heath Miller said. "I think when you're able to establish the run everything else just branches off that, the offense just kind of opens up. There were games this year when we didn't run the ball as well as we would have liked."

The Steelers had a 1,000-yard rusher -- second-year back Rashard Mendenhall -- but their touchdown rate of 48.2 percent when inside the opponents' 20-yard line ranked 21st in the NFL.

That is a reflection of the team's inability to consistently run the ball near the goal line and in short-yardage situations. Those shortcomings prompted Rooney to say the Steelers need to run the ball better in 2010 and that "it's certainly something that traditionally has been one of the foundations of the team."

The Steelers have run the ball differently since 2007, Bruce Arians' first season as offensive coordinator.

Arians has opened up the offense and has not had much use for a traditional fullback.

The Steelers typically use a tight end as a lead blocker in short-yardage situations if they run at all in them.

No play served as more of a flashpoint for fan and media criticism than when the Steelers went with an empty backfield early in a must-win game Dec. 10 at Cleveland. They tried to throw the ball on third-and-1, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked on the play that set the tone in the Steelers' 13-6 loss.

There had been speculation that Arians might lose his job even though the Steelers had a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher in a season for the first time in franchise history.

Arians survived what could be considered a minor shakeup to Mike Tomlin's coaching staff. But he may be under pressure to nudge the offense in the other direction after the Steelers have gone from running the ball 54 percent of the time in 2007 to 51 percent in 2008 and 44 percent last season.

"My last year there we kind of got away from that dedicated ground-and-pound aspect," said Faneca, who left the Steelers as a free agent after 2007 following 10 seasons with the team. "We were more of a mix-the-run-and-pass together. We weren't necessarily just trying to jam the ball down your throat."

The 2009 Jets and 2004 Steelers did just that. The two offenses were remarkably similar in that each protected a rookie quarterback by taking advantage of two talented running backs and a physical offensive line flush with first-round draft picks.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the 2009 Jets and '04 Steelers averaged 172.2 and 154.0 rushing yards per game, respectively.

If the Steelers want to get back to what they did in the middle of last decade -- they ran the ball 59 percent of the time in 2005 and averaged 124.5 rushing yards that season -- it may not happen right away.

No starters along their offensive line were drafted before the third round. And they haven't had an offensive lineman make the Pro Bowl since Faneca in 2007.

By comparison, three of the Jets' offensive linemen played in the Pro Bowl on Sunday night, including Faneca. All three were first-round draft picks.

The one significant change the Steelers made before the free-agent signing period and draft is replacing Larry Zierlein with Kugler.

Kugler, whose patchwork unit in Buffalo helped Fred Jackson rush for 1,062 yards this season, said the linemen that compete and finish plays are the ones who will be on the field next season.

What the Steelers do in the NFL Draft in late April may also be an indicator of how committed they are to running the ball next season.

ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay said the Steelers could use their first-round pick (No. 18 overall) on an offensive tackle and play him there or move him inside to guard.

McShay said the 2010 draft class is deep at offensive tackle.

"I get the sense from talking to people in the league that (the Steelers) want to get back to becoming a little bit more of a physical offensive football team," McShay said. "As much as they love Ben and as much as they love throwing the ball, they need to be able to run the ball when push comes to shove."

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 02-02-2010, 08:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

Quote:
"I get the sense from talking to people in the league that (the Steelers) want to get back to becoming a little bit more of a physical offensive football team," McShay said. "As much as they love Ben and as much as they love throwing the ball, they need to be able to run the ball when push comes to shove."
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:31 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

We shall see, but with the current cast, Big Ben is going to be passing again. The FO is not going to spend on quality Olinemen. The ones we have now have large cap hits and can't be cut. We may shed one and pick up one in the draft. However the secondary now has a glaring need for help. O showed we can get it done as is, D need help to fill the holes.

I will bet we are with in the same percentages plus or minus 3% of last years. This of course could change, but we are not the grind it out team we were years ago. they will not trade running and losses just to not pass the ball.
We do not this one game and lose, we are back to 70/30, lol
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:54 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

yeah were stuck with the OL we got for awhile. heres hoping that maybe a new OL coach may make a difference or the change in mentality at least. maybe Arians will just freak out and resign. oh well
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:28 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

Scott Brown is a hater. I'm putting him on ignore.
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Old 02-02-2010, 12:01 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

Ugh... Yeah let's just keep ignoring the situational play-calling and run the ball more. Running more cures all ills for this team !!
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

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Originally Posted by Prok View Post
Ugh... Yeah let's just keep ignoring the situational play-calling and run the ball more. Running more cures all ills for this team !!
no....its not that...its that we consistently suck in situational play calling

red zone
short yardage
short 3rd downs

if we are able to run more effectively in those areas......we will definately win the Alamo bowl next year. or maybe the Tour de France.....whichever
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

We ARE able to run the ball when push comes to shove. We just choose not to.

I don't think the offensive line is half bad at run blocking, and Mendenhall is the "complete" running back we've wanted for a long time. The problem is that we just drift off and get caught up in trying to be cute. I don't care whether we run 100% of the time or pass 100% of the time as long as it's what makes sense for the situation.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

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Originally Posted by urgle burgle View Post
no....its not that...its that we consistently suck in situational play calling

red zone
short yardage
short 3rd downs

if we are able to run more effectively in those areas......we will definately win the Alamo bowl next year. or maybe the Tour de France.....whichever


BA's system is just more passing friendly.

Personally, i'd prefer a REAL FB in most formations for either pass-blocking or run-blocking but we won't really get that. We'll get to see an H-back go in motion then take himself completely out of the play leaving a free man headed towards Ben with intentions to knock him out.... But no worries, as most times Ben will avoid the would-be sack to make the big play.

We just gotta worry about that old Troy Aikman early retirement syndrome thing when the free rusher does cream Ben or the LB in coverage does when Ben scrambles..

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Old 02-02-2010, 06:13 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers commit to re-establishing run

Read the article in the paper today and I gotta say, this is complete and utter garbage. It's the same old, "Fire Bruce Arians and kick his dog" implying we've heard a thousand times.

For starters to show how uncredible this guy is when he tries to use stats to prove a point, let's look at this statement.

"The Steelers passed the ball 56 percent of the time in 2009 -- they passed more than any other Steelers team in the 2000s -- and that stands in stark contrast to the team running the ball 68 percent of the time in 2004."

While that is probably true, those numbers are skewed. He's taking the total numbers from the entire season. No matter who you have at OC or what his mindset is, if you're down big late, you're going to pass. If you're up, you're going to run. Those kind of things can skew the numbers.

What I did was look at our pass to run ratio in early game/down situations. Those situations being the 1st quarter and 1st down. I then compared that to the rest of the NFl and Whisenhunt in his three seasons as OC. The criteria was simple; have a QB start at least one game and have a back with at least 50 carries.

Passes

1st Qtr: 117
1st Down: 208

Runs

1st Qtr: 101
1st Down: 205


Totals
Qtr: 54.7/45.3 - pass
Down: 50.4/49.6 - pass

Compared to the rest of the league....


First Quarter

Vikings - 50/50
Titans: 51.6/48.4
Browns - 51.6/48.4
Bucs - 52/48
Patriots - 52.1/47.9
Raiders - 52.4/47.6
Giants - 52.4/47.5
Falcons - 52.5/47.5
Bills - 52.8/47.2
Jaguars - 53.3/46.7
Broncos - 53.4/46.6
Cowboys - 54.5/45.5
Dolphins - 54.7/45.3
Bengals - 54.7/45.3
Steelers - 54.7/45.3
Jets - 54.7/45.3
Lions - 55.7/44.3
Redskins - 56.5/43.5
Cardinals - 57.4/42.6
Eagles - 57.5/42.5
Rams - 57.6/42.4
Seahawks - 58.4/31.6
49ers - 58.5/41.5
Ravens - 58.7/41.3
Texans - 59.6/40.4
Chiefs - 59.9/40.1
Bears - 60/40
Saints - 60.8/39.2
Chargers - 61.1/38.9
Packers - 61.6/38.4
Colts - 77.4/32.6

First Down

Raiders - 50/50
Steelers - 50.4/49.6
Dolphins - 51/49
Redskins - 51/49
Saints - 51.6/48.4
Cardinals - 51.7/48.3
Ravens - 52.4/47.6
Chiefs - 52.4/47.6
Giants - 52.5/47.5
49ers - 52.8/47.2
Patriots - 53/47
Cowboys - 53/47
Falcons - 53.3/46.7
Chargers - 53.7/46.3
Bengals - 53.8/46.2
Lions - 54/46
Texans- 54.1/45.9
Jaguars - 54.2/45.8
Packers - 54.2/45.8
Eagles - 54.7/45.3
Bucs - 54.8/45.2
Seahawks - 55/45
Vikings - 55.2/44.8
Colts - 56.2/43.8
Titans - 57.6/42.4
Bills - 59.3/40.7
Bears - 61.7/38.3
Browns - 61.9/38.1
Seahawks - 63.3/33.7
Jets - 73.7/26.3

We were tied for 13th in the first quarter and second on first down, only behind the perfectly split Oakland Raiders. That averages out to having us be the 7.5 most balanced team in the league.

To further look into the numbers, I then compared what Arians did this year to what Whiz did in each of his three year's as the OC. Same criteria applied. Those are as follows.

[2004

Passes

1st Quarter: 95
1st Down:133


Runs

1st Quarter: 125
1st Down: 255

Total

1st Quarter: 56.8/41.2 - run
1st Down: 65.7/34.3 - run

2005

Passes

1st Quarter: 97
1st Down: 125

Runs

1st Quarter: 94
1st Down: 112

Total

1st Quarter: 50.8/48.2 - pass
1st Down: 52.7/47.3 - pass

2006

Passes

1st Quarter: 122
1st Down: 192

Runs

1st Quarter:113
1st Down: 224

Total

1st Quarter: 51.9/48.1 - pass
1st Down: 53.8/46.2 - run

Arians was more balanced in the first quarter in one year while being more balanced on first down than Whiz ever was with us. And it should be noted that while the percentages were closer, in 2005 and 2006, Whiz favored the pass to the running game in the first quarter. And that was with worse weapons and a less potent offense. It should come as to no surprise that those numbers only increased as guys like Ben, Heath, and Holmes matured (And got paid in the cases of Ben and Heath).

Now I'm not saying that Whiz being more unbalanced than Arians in a lot of instances is a bad thing. I'm not trying to put any connotation on it. I understand why we favored the run with Whiz, just as I understand why we favor the pass with Arians.

But one thing is for sure. Anyone who says Arians is unbalanced, better be saying that Whiz was moreso.

I know this is fairly lengthy, so I'll finish up the rest of my response to the article in a new post.
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