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Thread: The O-Line ... changes in store

  1. #31
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    The Line On The Steelers Offensive Line and It’s New Coach

    March 28th, 2013
    Written By: Steve Kimble

    On January 29, 2013 the Pittsburgh Steelers hired new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. So what’s the line on the Steelers offensive line and it’s new Coach?

    Here is a little back ground on Jack Bicknell Jr. to help us gain a little insight on what changes may come and what he may bring to the Steelers offensive line.

    Bicknell was the starting center for Boston College and was part of one of the most historic plays in college football history when he snapped the ball to QB Doug Flutie in the famous Hail Mary play to beat Miami 47-45 in 1984. Bicknell’s father Jack Bicknell was Boston College’s head coach at the time.

    Jack Bicknell Jr. began coaching as a graduate assistant at Boston College. He later coached at New Hampshire with stints coaching the defensive line and offensive line. From 1999-2006 he was head coach of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs with a total record of 43-52.

    Bicknell began his NFL coaching career as an assistant offensive line coach on the New York Giants in 2008 and was part of the 2011 Super Bowl Champions. The offensive line that season allowed only 28 quarterback sacks.

    In 2012 Bicknell moved on to Kansas City to become the Chiefs offensive line coach and that line excelled at a high level run blocking. The Chiefs’ ran the ball for an average of 4.8 yards as a team and ranked 5th in rushing in 2012.

    Jamal Charles, the Chiefs’ feature running back, had a great year averaging 5.3 yards a carry for 1509 yards and 5 TDS, and the Chiefs played against some of the NFL’s top run defenses such as division foes San Diego and Denver each twice.

    The Steelers have tried the past few seasons to improve their running game and line play so you can see why a guy like Bicknell Jr. may have intrigued them.

    Here are a couple quotes from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin following Bicknell’s hiring…

    “Obviously Jamaal Charles is a talented runner but when you look at their tape, there are running lanes. They did a nice job of not only getting hats on hats, but the technique with which they executed those blocks, and the demeanor they displayed individually and collectively in how they finished plays were attractive coaching aspects of the tape.”

    “They played the AFC North, and they ran the ball very well against all the teams in the AFC North . They ran the ball effectively against us when Jamaal Charles had a 100-yard game. That was attractive to me. The plan they were able to put together, the success they were able to have vs. some people we are going to see quite a bit was a selling feature.”

    The Chiefs averaged 6.9 yards a carry against the Browns, 4.3 against the Bengals, 4.2 against the Ravens and 4.1 against the Steelers. Those are good rushing averages against some stout defenses.

    So Tomlin had some good reasons for his choice of Bicknell and it falls in line with the Steelers emphasis to establish a more consistent productive running game.

    Bicknell by all accounts is a coach who stresses technique, likes his players smart and well prepared and wants athletic, quick footed players that move well and can make changes on the fly.

    Hopefully Bicknell’s fondness for technique and players being well prepared will result in fewer pre-snap penalties, they seemed to plague the Steelers last season.

    Bicknell seems to be a big fan of zone blocking schemes and stretch plays. These type of schemes and plays require quick mobile linemen. It’s easy to see how this hire may have spelled doom for players such as Willie Colon, Max Starks, and Doug Legursky, and their future as Steelers while also playing to the strengths of players such as Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Mike Adams. Three players that seem to be the future core of the Steelers offensive line .

    So you see many changes have taken place with the Steelers’ offensive line and its coaching philosophies. It’s this writer’s opinion that the hiring of Jack Bicknell Jr. was a definite step in the right direction.

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/03/2...its-new-coach/

  2. #32
    Pro Bowler supersteeler's Avatar
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    Here are a couple quotes from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin following Bicknell’s hiring…

    “Obviously Jamaal Charles is a talented runner but when you look at their tape, there are running lanes. They did a nice job of not only getting hats on hats, but the technique with which they executed those blocks, and the demeanor they displayed individually and collectively in how they finished plays were attractive coaching aspects of the tape.

    Ok I got it, now if we use the zone blocking exclusively will those lanes still be there when your back is lined up so far behind the LOS?

  3. #33
    Legend papillon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supersteeler View Post
    Here are a couple quotes from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin following Bicknell’s hiring…

    “Obviously Jamaal Charles is a talented runner but when you look at their tape, there are running lanes. They did a nice job of not only getting hats on hats, but the technique with which they executed those blocks, and the demeanor they displayed individually and collectively in how they finished plays were attractive coaching aspects of the tape.

    Ok I got it, now if we use the zone blocking exclusively will those lanes still be there when your back is lined up so far behind the LOS?
    The depth of the back isn't really the issue, it's the quality of the back running the ball. Many backs including Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis liked being lined up deep to be able to read the blocks and make cuts. Other backs like being given the ball 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage and run where the hole is supposed to be and then use their vision to turn a 4 yard gain into 10 or more.

    You have to tailor the set to the talents of your back, lining up 7 yards deep in the "I" formation is a popular set for many backs, just not the Steelers' backs in my opinion and especially now that Mendenhall is gone.

    Pappy


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  4. #34
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    Terrific, so because things worked 20 years ago they obviously still work now.

    Hint: It's now 2013.

  5. #35
    Great synopsis.

    Quote Originally Posted by ikestops85 View Post
    Granted we were lucky to have a talent like Bettis play for us but you can't discount the O-line we had his last 2 years. The O-line in 2004 was one of the best run blocking lines we have had in Pittsburgh. They used Ben to help get a lead and then we would run, run, and run some more. Opponents knew we were going to run but they still couldn't stop us. That was the amazing thing about them. Staley was having an excellent year until he got hurt. Remember Bettis was just the short yardage back that year. Even the next year we started Parker and Bettis was the change of pace back we had a very good running game. Even in 2006 with Bettis retired Parker ran for close to 1500 yards and 13 TDs.

    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.

  6. #36
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    People are still buying the lie that Faneca was the reason they did what they did in 2007?

    LOL

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by papillon View Post
    The depth of the back isn't really the issue, it's the quality of the back running the ball. Many backs including Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis liked being lined up deep to be able to read the blocks and make cuts. Other backs like being given the ball 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage and run where the hole is supposed to be and then use their vision to turn a 4 yard gain into 10 or more.

    You have to tailor the set to the talents of your back, lining up 7 yards deep in the "I" formation is a popular set for many backs, just not the Steelers' backs in my opinion and especially now that Mendenhall is gone.

    Pappy
    I agree Pappy. Mendenhall never had the vision in traffic. Sure, he made some good runs when the lanes were wide open. His best runs between the tackles come from following the FB. When he is on his own to pick a hole, he wasnt nearly as good. You can see his indecision on plenty of runs.

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