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Jooser
10-07-2009, 10:11 AM
Per PPG: some nice info and analysis here:


On the Steelers: Mendenhall's success creates halfback controversy
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

You might need to refer to your fraction multiplication table for this one, but what do you get when you have a quarterback controversy times two?

A halfback controversy.

Mike Tomlin would seem to have one on his hands this week as he decides whether to start Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall, not that it is a bad thing. Quarterback controversies can split a locker room in two; halfback controversies like this one usually do not.

Parker, the veteran starter, missed the 38-28 victory against San Diego at Heinz Field Sunday night because of turf toe, and Rashard Mendenhall climbed from behind Tomlin's curtain and performed his Franco Harris impersonation. Mendenhall ran a workhorse 29 times for 165 yards, scored on both chances at the goal line, caught two passes for 26 yards and blocked like Dan Kreider.

He became only the sixth Steeler to rush for at least 165 yards and two touchdowns in the same game since 1970.

Parker should be healthy Sunday, even if Tomlin would not commit to that. The Steelers sent that message Monday when they released halfback Isaac Redman and replaced him with defensive end Nick Eason.

Tomlin gave a wonderfully worded answer when he was asked who might start at halfback if Parker were healthy.

"We hadn't pondered the division of labor to this point," Tomlin said. "I think the most important thing is we find out the level of availability of Willie, and then we'll make that determination, but, at this point, the ball is in Rashard's hands until we get further information in regards to Willie Parker."
:Clap
That covers all his bases, no matter what.

Many Steelers coaches over the years have used a starter's injury to keep another player in the lineup long after the starter's ailment cleared. It happened famously with quarterback Bubby Brister in 1991, when an injury to him prompted Chuck Noll to start Neil O'Donnell, and then keep him there even though Brister's injury had healed. Brister smoldered until he finally refused to go into a game in Houston in relief of O'Donnell with the Steelers hopelessly behind. The following week, Brister started, won the final two games, and Noll retired.

Before Parker's injury, before Mendenhall's poor study habits, the coaching staff went into the season with a design: Parker starts and plays two series, Mendenhall the third, and they would continue that rotation throughout the game.

Mendenhall's benching in Chicago changed that, and Parker's injury changed it the other way.

Now it is up to Tomlin. Do you go with the veteran who has proven it over a number of years or with the hot hand who just happened to be your first-round draft choice in 2008 with an eye exactly toward this moment?
Polamalu's return up in air

Troy Polamalu's return to the lineup remains as ambiguous as the starting halfback. Polamalu has not played since the MCL in his left knee was sprained in the first half of the opener Sept. 10.

At the time, the prognosis was he would miss three to six weeks.

Later, Polamalu said his goal was to return by the game in Detroit, which is Sunday.

"Troy's been doing well and progressing well," Tomlin said.

"He may participate in a limited basis tomorrow in practice with a brace on, just [to] see how he runs around and changes direction. Last week, he ran some in a straight line to pretty solid reviews, so we'll take another step to see where he is. What that means for his game participation is unclear to this point."

Tomlin fairly acknowledged that his defense, which has allowed 45 points in the fourth quarters of the past three games, is not the same without his Pro Bowl strong safety.

"I'm not going to dispute that, but, at the same time I'm not going to use that as an excuse."
Foote on their mind

Was that Larry Foote or Jack Lambert the Steelers' coach praised on and on and on yesterday?

"Of course, we all know that he's a top-quality player and person, high-character guy and great leader for those guys. They seem to be molding well under his leadership."

As for Foote's possible knowledge of the Steelers' signals and schemes, Tomlin answered, "I'm more concerned about his playmaking ability. This guy's a good football player. He made a bunch of plays for them. And, if I know Larry, he'll provide some good WWE talk prior to the game, but he'll always step into the stadium ready to back it up. We like Larry. Got a great deal of respect for him."

The follow-up to that then is why did the Steelers release him right after the draft?

"For a lot of reasons," Tomlin answered, "most importantly is our growth and development at that position and feelings regarding Lawrence Timmons."

That is the first time they have publicly acknowledged that. It also was coupled with Foote's $3 million salary and the linebacker's intuitiveness to demand to be released in April rather than wait to be asked by them later to take a paycut. He preferred to be treated like Joey Porter, who was released before March 2007, so he could latch on elsewhere and practice with his new team.

Hot starts for Miller, Ward

Some things you might know, some you might not:

Tight end Heath Miller, second on the team with 24 receptions, is on pace to catch 96 passes, far and away more than any tight end in club history. If he did that, he might even make the Pro Bowl. He also leads the team with two touchdown catches.

Safety Ryan Clark (lower back strain), offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu (left ankle) and backup linebacker Andre Frazier (shoulder separation) have minor injuries that might limit them in practice. Tight end David Johnson, out since his ankle was injured vs. Cincinnati, should return.

Hines Ward is off to a fast and slow start. He leads the team with 26 catches and 355 yards, but this is the longest he has gone into a season without scoring since 2000.
and he needs to be scoring to help out the joose pigs, dammit!
Ben Roethlisberger is on pace to be sacked less than he has been in any of the previous three seasons. He has been sacked 10 times, on pace for 40.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09280/10 ... z0TG7jmATZ (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09280/1003510-66.stm#ixzz0TG7jmATZ)


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09280/10 ... z0TG7dSpJA (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09280/1003510-66.stm#ixzz0TG7dSpJA)

Oviedo
10-07-2009, 10:17 AM
IMO there is no issue here. Mendenhall has the hot hand right now and you ride with him until he falters. Give FWP some "breather reps" when Mendy needs a blow but until then this team needs to find out conclusively whether Mendy is the real deal over the long term.

Jooser
10-07-2009, 10:23 AM
the way I see it, Mendy is clearly the most talented runner. He has moves to shake tackles, he has power, and he clearly has speed. He also has the fresh legs and showed hte hunger last week.

stlrz d
10-07-2009, 12:18 PM
Let's just hope that Mendy is more Barry Foster than Tim Worley...and that he sustains that "1992" Foster for many seasons. :)

JTP53609
10-07-2009, 01:08 PM
i think most of us and everyone else feel that mendy should be the primary back even when willie gets back to form, especially if mendy has a good next 2 weeks, build his confidence and let him run, that game against the vikings will show us what he is truly made of, but i love the way he runs hard, hits the hole, he also showed that he can handle the load on short yd situations.....maybe thats why we did not adress the issue,....give willie his 10 carries and let mendy have 20....

RuthlessBurgher
10-07-2009, 01:42 PM
i think most of us and everyone else feel that mendy should be the primary back even when willie gets back to form, especially if mendy has a good next 2 weeks, build his confidence and let him run, that game against the vikings will show us what he is truly made of, but i love the way he runs hard, hits the hole, he also showed that he can handle the load on short yd situations.....maybe thats why we did not adress the issue,....give willie his 10 carries and let mendy have 20....

:Agree

I'd like to see us give Mendenhall 18-20 carries, Parker 10-12 carries, and Moore 3-4 carries plus 3-4 catches out of the backfield in his role as 3rd down and hurry-up offense RB.

JTP53609
10-07-2009, 01:45 PM
i think most of us and everyone else feel that mendy should be the primary back even when willie gets back to form, especially if mendy has a good next 2 weeks, build his confidence and let him run, that game against the vikings will show us what he is truly made of, but i love the way he runs hard, hits the hole, he also showed that he can handle the load on short yd situations.....maybe thats why we did not adress the issue,....give willie his 10 carries and let mendy have 20....

:Agree

I'd like to see us give Mendenhall 18-20 carries, Parker 10-12 carries, and Moore 3-4 carries plus 3-4 catches out of the backfield in his role as 3rd down and hurry-up offense RB.

somehow i forgot moore, i agree, somewhere between 3-5 carries for him, some teams use the three headed backfield to good use, maybe we can too now,

aggiebones
10-07-2009, 03:11 PM
I'll play Devil's Advocate here:
You go all in with Mendi and he fumbles once next week and twice the folllowing week. You've now stripped Parker's confidence and he knows he's done as a Steeler. He can't muster up the game to help. Now you have 2 gutted RBs.

I'm gonna say they go to a 60-40 rotation in Parker's favor after the bye week when he's healthy. Both will get plenty of touches in theory. At some point later, one might get hurt and you'll need the other one ready. We don't need to upset the locker room with this problem. Parker can play when healthy.

Mel Blount's G
10-07-2009, 06:35 PM
I'll play Devil's Advocate here:
You go all in with Mendi and he fumbles once next week and twice the folllowing week. You've now stripped Parker's confidence and he knows he's done as a Steeler. He can't muster up the game to help. Now you have 2 gutted RBs.
I was just gonna say that: Us RM pushers will change our tune in a hurry if RM starts coughin' up da rock.

Here's a few things on the subject from me.

- I was one of the guys that has been begging for RM to get a fair shake, which I consider to be 20-30 carries per game for at least 4-5 consecutive games

- I (along with others here) got my wish and Mendy got a full game in which he delivered. Now he needs more starting, full-role games to get better at the other important rb things i.e. blocking, diagnosing and picking up blitzes, etc.. and get a real feel for the NFL weekly game/schedule. He won't get this by playing behind fwp or or coming in only on situational downs. Some of willie's confidence may have to be sacrificed in order to develop our #1 pick. Or at the least, see for once and all if he has what it takes to be a starting rb in this league, or tougher yet, for the pittsburgh steelers. Also, this would have a desired side effect of reducing some wear-and-tear on willie, with the assumption that less regular season miles would equal a dangerously healthy and fully-charged FWP come December.

- Mendy delivered against a debilitated defense. Their all-pro run plugger, the anchor of that D, Jamal Williams, was gone. It would be like us playng game after game without our Big Snack in the middle. Our run D would suffer badly. SD was also down some linebackers. What i'm saying is: I do NOT want to take away from the fact that RM played a great game and looked good running. However, I'm also not going to go overboard and say dump willie, we have the next Walter Payton. Let's see how RM does against team that knows how to hit and tackle aka NOT the SD Lethargers. Let's see if there is any reality to the claims that he runs too straight up, that he doesn't get low enough, that he is a fumble waiting to happen. I guarantee a team like the felons (aka the sh!tbirds) won't let RM prance through their D like a ballroom dancer

- Bye the way, it sure is damn nice to have the luxury of a Mewelde Moore to use when needed and in specific situations. Has the guy ever done anything but come through when asked? Seems to be, in a quiet way, Mr. First Down. I think I've taken him for granted

Lonbull
10-07-2009, 06:50 PM
Granted only Tomlin (and the coaches) know where Mendenhall stands in his development. However that being said - I would like to see them shift Mendenhall into getting most of the carries for the following reasons.

1st - Mendenhall is the future, and we've already (practically) lost his rookie season due to injury.

2nd - Mendenhall's confidence at this point in his career seems more important than Parker's confidence. Willie Parker is a hard worker, and he's in a contract year - he'll keep his head up, and should Mendenhall falter - I have no doubt that Parker will play to the best of his ability.

3rd - If Mendenhall can pass protect like he was doing it on Sunday Night! :shock: :owned Then I think starting Mendenhall is better for our overall offense anyway.

To me if Mendenhall is ready to start playing like the 1st round pick we spent on him, I think the Steelers need to give him every opportunity to do so. If he regresses - than you spell him with the Mouse (Mewelde) and Willie Parker - I'm not saying Mendenhall is an "Adrian Peterson" kind of back (I'm not sure how many guys are).....but if he can get comfortable and run with that kind of determination on every down.....that makes Ben Roethlisberger practically unstoppable.

L.B.

LasVegasGuy
10-07-2009, 07:05 PM
I'll play Devil's Advocate here:
You go all in with Mendi and he fumbles once next week and twice the folllowing week. You've now stripped Parker's confidence and he knows he's done as a Steeler. He can't muster up the game to help. Now you have 2 gutted RBs.

I'm gonna say they go to a 60-40 rotation in Parker's favor after the bye week when he's healthy. Both will get plenty of touches in theory. At some point later, one might get hurt and you'll need the other one ready. We don't need to upset the locker room with this problem. Parker can play when healthy.

All running backs fumble. Parker not only needs to sit he needs to carry Mendy's helmet onto the field and bring him water when he's thirsty.

Sit Mendy for Parker and Tomlin's coaching ability will be questioned by more people other then just LVG.

Mel Blount's G
10-07-2009, 07:06 PM
I'm not saying Mendenhall is an "Adrian Peterson" kind of back (I'm not sure how many guys are).
In one respect, I sure hope he isn't - apparently AP has fumbled more than any other running back over the last year or two (according to the commentators of monday night's game)!