We were lucky to have a once in a generation talent in Bettis who combined size and agility like he did.
Then in 2007 Larry Zierlein was hired and he tried to institute a zone blocking scheme. Faneca didn't like it so I think they kept a lot of man blocking for that year and we ran okay. The next year with Faneca gone and the zone blocking scheme in place our run game started spiralling downhill and has not recovered.
According to Wexell, Steelers have incorporated zone reads into their scheme for years. The biggest difference, and one I like, is the type of o-linemen we have utilized lately.
I'm all for more athletic 0-linemen. The top running teams in the league have the athletic o-linemen. You also have to have the right running back. This leads me to believe we will take one that fits this scheme better. Randle from OK. State perhaps?
Larry Z tried to incorporate a ZBS with an OL designed to block for Jerome Bettis. If there is 1 critisism of Tomlin that Chadman can lay at his feet, it's that they should have known right away that the big fat maulers that were leftovers from Cowher, were not ZBS Olinemen. There's nothing wrong with a ZBS, there's nothing wrong with a Man Block system. You just have to have ther right guys to run it.
Looks like the Steelers will lose Mendenhall at the wrong time- the way he runs, a good ZBS would probably make him more effective. Man Blocking schemes are generally designed to build a power run heavy offense. Mendenhall simply isn't that type of RB, and would flourish if allowed to run outside of the "Inside Zone" more often.
Concerningly though... if Mendy leaves, and Redman & Dwyer are RBs 1 & 2...they are power runners... and more suited to Man Blocking...
I think they have to be more concerned with run blocking because Roethlisberger is not going to allow you a great pass blocking line.
The good news is that a vicious play action game (ala a successful running game) would make Big Ben lethal.
The only change that needs to take place on the Oline is for it be healthy and stay healthy. We have 4 top picks on the line and every single one of them missed time last year due to injury.