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Old 12-14-2010, 06:23 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Steelers stalled by lack of rush

Steelers stalled by lack of rush

By John Harris
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Run the football.


Louder this time, with feeling:

RUN THE FOOTBALL!


That's Hines Ward, Mr. Future Pro Football Hall of Famer talking.

That's Mike Wallace, Mr. Faster Than The Speed of Light talking.

That's the Steelers' top two receivers, who would rather catch passes than eat, discussing the best way to attack the steady diet of Cover-2 defenses that has brought the offense to a standstill.

For those doing the algebra at home, the offense has scored two touchdowns over the last 13 quarters.

The Steelers are 3-0 during that span.

Any other team -- any other defense -- and the Steelers wouldn't be 10-3, atop the AFC North and playoff-bound.

That's a credit to the defense, which picked up the slack when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed the first four games because of a suspension and contributed heavily to a 3-1 start.

"When teams play Cover-2, you should be able to run the ball because they only have seven guys in the box," Ward said.

"Teams that play a lot of Cover-2, we should have a good day in the running game. That's how it's supposed to go."

The Steelers rushed for 123 yards on 27 carries in Sunday's 23-7 win over Cincinnati, an impressive 4.6 yards a carry.

However, the Steelers, as has been their custom, passed more than they ran. Roethlisberger was 21 of 33 for 258 yards and an 87.7 passer rating.

Ward had a game-high eight receptions for 115 yards. Wallace had five receptions for 78 yards. They were targeted 19 times, the two of them accounting for more than half of Roethlisberger's pass attempts.

Rashard Mendenhall, the No. 1 option in the run game, had 18 rushes for 66 yards. You do the math.

"It's been like that the last two or three weeks," Wallace said of facing the Cover-2, a zone defense that's designed to prevent the long pass. "They don't want us to take it over the top. We don't have a problem with that. We'll pound it if we have to."

It goes without saying: The Steelers don't want to pound it. They want to pass it. (No Airhead wants to pass, pass, pass. - mesa)

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is a Roethlisberger guy. It's his offense. His quarterback. His call. (Santa, I've been a good Steeler fan. Please bring me a new OC! - mesa)

Roethlisberger has a $102 million contract and two Super Bowl titles on his resume. Again, do the math.

Against the Cover-2, running the ball is the best strategy. But the offense is giving up on the run too soon.

"Teams that sit back and play Cover-2 and stop the run, it makes for a long day, offensively," Ward said.

That's Ward talking. That's Wallace talking.

"We see Cover-2 all day," Ward said. "Are they doing it more or any less? I can't tell you. But they're doing it. It's just a matter of picking and choosing the right time (to pass or run)."

The offense's struggles are magnified in the red zone, where the Steelers went 0 for 3 against Cincinnati. That's fine in the regular season against a 2-11 Bengals team, but that lack of production will get a team bounced from the playoffs.

On first-and-goal at the Cincinnati 5 with 34 seconds left in the second quarter, Roethlisberger spiked the ball. Two incompletions later, Shaun Suisham's 23-yard field goal gave the Steelers a 10-7 lead.

"We make good plays all the way down the field. Then, when the field gets condensed and we get to the red zone, we're not scoring points." Wallace said.

The Steelers are going to have to find some answers against the Cover-2, because that's what they'll face in the postseason.

The AFC playoffs will pass through New England. No defense can stop Tom Brady, not even the Steelers'. That means the offense -- Cover-2 and all -- will have to pick up the pace or go home.

There are holes in the middle against the Cover-2. Roethlisberger found some against Cincinnati. Ward made a great 29-yard catch down the middle while falling on his back. Antwaan Randle El made a spectacular one-handed leaping stab for 22 yards. Wallace hit a seam and stretched the secondary for a 33-yard catch.

"When we tried to take our shots, they were in Cover-2, so it negated some of the big plays," Ward said. "When they went single-high, they brought a lot of pressure. El made a play, I made a play, Mike made a play."

If the Steelers make more plays in the running game, it will open up the passing game.
That's Basic Offensive Football 101.

"When it comes to crunch time, we have to start putting up touchdowns," Ward said. "Field goals won't win it."

That's Ward talking. That's Wallace talking.

Run the football.

(Airhead Arians, the passing Nazi, is going to destroy this season yet and even our receivers are saying it. - mesa)

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-543

Last edited by mesaSteeler; 12-14-2010 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:48 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

Since the Steelers are going to the playoffs I assume Arians is safe, but columns such as this one by Harris that quote the receivers as saying the Steelers throw the ball too damn much to be effective on offense hopefully indicates the front office knows there is a probelm that will only be fixed with a new o-coordinator
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

Mendenhall seems to be dragging behind the linemen behind the line of scrimmage. Then he's stuffed. Yes, he does a break a big one once in awhile, which brings his avg up, be there's way too many 0, 1 yard runs. Either the linemen have to start creating holes in there instead of cloggin up the area or we need to run Mendy outside more. I prefer running him outside more. We're just too predictable sending him up the middle ALL the time.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRH View Post
Mendenhall seems to be dragging behind the linemen behind the line of scrimmage. Then he's stuffed. Yes, he does a break a big one once in awhile, which brings his avg up, be there's way too many 0, 1 yard runs. Either the linemen have to start creating holes in there instead of cloggin up the area or we need to run Mendy outside more. I prefer running him outside more. We're just too predictable sending him up the middle ALL the time.
I like to see running between the tackle, but there always seems to be a LB waiting. Yesterday while in the red zone I saw the Texans use an extra guy in the backfield to lead the RB into the line. Craziest shit I've ever seen
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

RUN THE DAMN BALL
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

I wonder how many of those throws are of those quick screen variety? Those are basically long handoffs that go down as passes. I'm not sure the Steeler brain trust is confident that the offensive line can block consistently enough without holding to run the ball; so they're just saying screw it lets get the ball on the perimeter and have our WRs block. Hines Ward may be our best blocker on offense right now.

I'm tired of drives being killed because of a holding penalty.
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

Ed. B. of the P-G believes the Steelers are not running more because they cannot run

Comment From Atlanta Dan
With even Hines Ward and Mike Wallace being quoted today in another pubiication that the Steelers need to call more running plays, has the front office concluded more runs will be called only when the plays can be executed by a better offensive line or is it recognized that there will be no change until the offensive coordinator changes?
Tuesday December 14, 2010 1:47

1:48 I don't know what that other publication is but it's my belief they need to call FEWER running plays the way they're going on the ground. I'd go back to last year's offense.
Tuesday December 14, 2010 1:48


Ed. B. also apparently does not read the Tribune Review
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

good stuff, dan.
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

I could have swore I saw a lot of people mocking Arians run, run, pass offense on here just a few days ago. What gives?

Guess you can't make everybody happy.

Either way I'm done trashing Arians, only peep I plan to make about him is if he gets a new contract at the end of the season.
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Old 12-14-2010, 03:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers stalled by lack of rush

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whodis View Post
I like to see running between the tackle, but there always seems to be a LB waiting. Yesterday while in the red zone I saw the Texans use an extra guy in the backfield to lead the RB into the line. Craziest shit I've ever seen
What kind of backwards thinking is that? Using a fullback to open up holes in the middle and lead the RB to the line? That's crazy talk.

YOU SUCK ARIANS!!
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