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hawaiiansteel
02-03-2010, 04:28 PM
Steelers commit to re-establishing run

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.

"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."

SteelCrazy
02-03-2010, 07:46 PM
Why is Art II being so vocal? As long as I have been a fan of the Steelers, I've never read about Dan or The Chief giving their opinions about the Steelers regarding what needs to be fixed in order to win. Does anyone remember if The Chief was this vocal in the off-seasons? I'm a tad too young to remember.........

jj28west
02-03-2010, 08:03 PM
That struck me as odd also. They are usually hands off so maybe it was nothing more than an answer or comment to a question.

Djfan
02-03-2010, 08:40 PM
Maybe he feels his team is going the wrong way.

SteelCrazy
02-03-2010, 09:38 PM
Maybe he feels his team is going the wrong way.


Where was he when Cowher and Chuck and sub-par seasons? Maybe it was because he wasn't running the show then.

I don't have a problem with it, but it does seem odd.......

Chadman
02-03-2010, 10:42 PM
Becoming 'more of a running team' & drafting OL players do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Running the ball, in general, wasn't a huge issue. Short yardage certainly seems to be- even according to the HC.

If Mr Rooney had said they have to keep Ben from being sacked more, then yes, OL would be an obvious draft choice.

But running the ball is schematic. The Steelers didn't run as much by design.

Here's Chadman's 'view' on Rooney talking to the media- here's betting that Mr Rooney, and the other investors, thought that Bruce Arians had to go. they probably indicated as much to Mike Tomlin. Tomlin might have argued to keep Arains though- Tomlin likes to keep his staff in tact, so Arians survives, but with a caveat that he must change the gameplan to suit the owners/investors ideas on how the organisation should run.

And all this posturing to the media is a 'get the picture' comment for Arians to take on board.

Flasteel
02-03-2010, 11:32 PM
Becoming 'more of a running team' & drafting OL players do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Running the ball, in general, wasn't a huge issue. Short yardage certainly seems to be- even according to the HC.

If Mr Rooney had said they have to keep Ben from being sacked more, then yes, OL would be an obvious draft choice.

But running the ball is schematic. The Steelers didn't run as much by design.

Here's Chadman's 'view' on Rooney talking to the media- here's betting that Mr Rooney, and the other investors, thought that Bruce Arians had to go. they probably indicated as much to Mike Tomlin. Tomlin might have argued to keep Arains though- Tomlin likes to keep his staff in tact, so Arians survives, but with a caveat that he must change the gameplan to suit the owners/investors ideas on how the organisation should run.

And all this posturing to the media is a 'get the picture' comment for Arians to take on board.

That is exactly the way I see it Chadman. I'm glad that there is such a strong influence putting that nugget out there for him and one who will certainly hold him accountable for any more offensive ineptitude.

I think you're partially correct about running being a schematic issue. Yeah the play design, formation, and zone blocking scheme all have a role but there are a lot of other reasons for our running-game woes as well.

You need to have the right frame of mind and a belief in the right kind of philosophy. This includes having a blocking FB and never going empty on 3rd and 1.

It includes incorporating play-calling which is designed to attack multiple horizontal points accross the line, effectively mixing the outside and inside.

It means you set up the pass by establishing the run unless your opponent's weaknesses demand otherwise.

It entails establishing a mind-set in your players that they can fire off the line and punch anyone in the mouth when they need a yard.

In other words, it will take nothing short of Bruce Arians getting some type of assistance in changing his beliefs and behavior. He needs some type of behavior replacement therapy or complete deprogramming by the CIA. Otherwise he will continually revert to his poor play selection and reliance on the pass.

Thank God we have a quarterback who can pull it off more often than not.

hawaiiansteel
02-04-2010, 02:49 AM
Bettis: Steelers' offense just needs a little more balance
February 3rd, 2010 - TribLive


FORT LAUDERDALE — Count Jerome Bettis among those who applauded when Steelers president Art Rooney II said the team must place more of an emphasis on running the ball next season.

“I think it’s great that they have made that adjustment and said ‘We’ve got to run the football more,’ ” Bettis said. “I don’t think that they’re that far off.”

Bettis, who retired after the 2005 season, was among the celebrities that made their way around “Radio Row” inside the Broward County Convention Center Wednesday, a group that also included Barry Sanders, Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner.

The Steelers’ second all-time leading rusher made the above observation about the Steelers only needing to make minor changes while in between a TV and radio show appearance.

Bettis’ punishing running style epitomized what the Steelers were all about on the ground not so long ago — and offensively for that matter.

Yet he didn’t advocate a return to 2004 when the Steelers ran the ball 68 percent of the time with Bettis and Duce Staley carrying the load.

Bettis, in fact, said, “It’s just a matter of getting the emphasis back not even (to) 50/50. Close to 50/50 I think will be great.”

The Steelers ran the ball 44 percent of the time last season and passed 56 percent of the time. Rooney II did not necessarily say that the Steelers need a reversal of that that ratio, only that they need to place more of a priority on the ground game.

If the Steelers nudge the run/pass ratio closer to an even split and improve running the ball in certain situations, Bettis said, imagine the possibilities.

“You’ve already got a dynamic passing game,” Bettis said. “If you can get the running game even close then you’ve got an incredible football team.”

BATMAN
02-04-2010, 08:15 AM
I feel he too believed we had enough gas in the tank to win it again this season and now he is looking at, what could have helped.

Yeah I would have liked to see us run more for the ball control of things. I would have liked to see us run more to give the defense something to think about rather than, just going after Ben for the most part.


Some game situations that just seemed like we should have ran at times were just not called. You can say that about passing situations too. Arians just doesn't know what to do for the most part in my opinion.

He might make a carpenters helper but never a carpenter. We have the personal but the guy can't run things. Lebeua and the defense will need to play lights out again for an Arians offense to stumble its way through the season.

What year was it we won the SB with Cowher 2004 ? Anyway, after yet another AFC champioship loss of all people that got interviewed it was Art. When asked about the loss Art kind of snapped with his response. Arts words were, " I'm ready to win, we've been ready to win ! " I never forgot that and the next season we won. I have a feeling he isn't so at ease with waiting for good things to happen as Dan Rooney was.

Oviedo
02-04-2010, 09:14 AM
Becoming 'more of a running team' & drafting OL players do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Running the ball, in general, wasn't a huge issue. Short yardage certainly seems to be- even according to the HC.

If Mr Rooney had said they have to keep Ben from being sacked more, then yes, OL would be an obvious draft choice.

But running the ball is schematic. The Steelers didn't run as much by design.

Here's Chadman's 'view' on Rooney talking to the media- here's betting that Mr Rooney, and the other investors, thought that Bruce Arians had to go. they probably indicated as much to Mike Tomlin. Tomlin might have argued to keep Arains though- Tomlin likes to keep his staff in tact, so Arians survives, but with a caveat that he must change the gameplan to suit the owners/investors ideas on how the organisation should run.

And all this posturing to the media is a 'get the picture' comment for Arians to take on board.

I agree. I think the word was if you keep Arians get rid of the empty backfield sets on short yardage and other things that don't work. Rooney probably let Tomlin know that he is the Head coach and if he wants to keep Arians it is on him but they don't think that may be the best way moving forward so they expect changes and results.

I think Tomlin then went to Arians and said I put my butt on the line for you and now this is what we are going to do starting with getting rid of the OL coach. If you can't live with that then I will gladly accept your resignation.

fezziwig
02-04-2010, 09:33 AM
The way the organization talked, it never entered their minds or conversation that Arians was to be let go. Was that a smoke screen ?

Now if they do get a REAL fullback that blocks in the backfield, run blocks etc, they can blame everything on the last o line coach.

Oviedo
02-04-2010, 09:59 AM
The way the organization talked, it never entered their minds or conversation that Arians was to be let go. Was that a smoke screen ?

Now if they do get a REAL fullback that blocks in the backfield, run blocks etc, they can blame everything on the last o line coach.


I still wouldn't make getting a "real FB" as a metric for renewed commitment to the running game. I actually think Johnson did very well when asked to block and don't forget that Sean McHugh did a very good job blocking out of the backfield in the run up to winning the Super Bowl and he will be back.

I think it is more playing with less one back and empty backfield sets versus getting a player who calls himself something position wise. I think that John and McHugh can be just as effective as any FB we would get and probably would offer more in the receiving game.

frankthetank1
02-04-2010, 10:31 AM
The way the organization talked, it never entered their minds or conversation that Arians was to be let go. Was that a smoke screen ?

Now if they do get a REAL fullback that blocks in the backfield, run blocks etc, they can blame everything on the last o line coach.


I still wouldn't make getting a "real FB" as a metric for renewed commitment to the running game. I actually think Johnson did very well when asked to block and don't forget that Sean McHugh did a very good job blocking out of the backfield in the run up to winning the Super Bowl and he will be back.

I think it is more playing with less one back and empty backfield sets versus getting a player who calls himself something position wise. I think that John and McHugh can be just as effective as any FB we would get and probably would offer more in the receiving game.

i agree, johnson is a very good blocker. the only problem is how many times was he lined up at FB last season? i can probably count them on one hand