I hope the RB's run MORE during the plays
I hope the RB's run MORE during the plays
Offensive linemen in the zone at training camp
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
July 31, 2013
There are videos on the Internet of Alex Gibbs detailing the intricacies of the zone-blocking scheme he made famous for those who have a spare six or 10 hours.
Or, you could allow Jack Bicknell Jr. to explain it in capsule form over the next few minutes. He is the Steelers' new offensive line coach, and he has coached a zone-blocking scheme, most recently in Kansas City.
The Steelers long have used a power-blocking philosophy with double-teams and specific holes assigned for runners to hit. A zone-blocking philosophy uses more of a flow of blockers to the right or left without specific defensive players assigned for them to block. They cut off the backside (away from the flow) -- often with the cut block that has so annoyed defensive players -- and block whomever is in front of them. The back looks for daylight wherever it might appear and cuts it up, cuts it back or heads around the corner.
Save that previous paragraph for future reference. Now, here is Bicknell on zone-blocking in a nutshell:
"It's basically, exactly what it says. [Blockers] are going to go to an area, primarily. The philosophy behind the play is that the running back can hit it in a lot of different areas, depending on what the blocking scheme is.
"The reason I like it is, if you have a running play and the defense knows how to fit it and where the ball is going, it's tough in this league in my opinion, to be successful with that.
"But, hopefully, with the outside zone, you're spreading the whole field, similar to a zone-read type of concept in college -- of course we don't want to run the quarterback. How can we spread the field and at least make it hard for them to fit? Here comes the safety, he doesn't know exactly where to fit -- 'if I fit too far outside he may cut it up, if I fit in here, he may get around the edge.'
"Those are the things that are exciting to me. The philosophy is we want to try to cut the backside, cut off the pursuit there, run guys on the front side and, hopefully, there are some seams for the running back."
One difference for Bicknell with the Steelers is they will keep the power-blocking scheme as well, using the double teams when they need to be used. They have big enough linemen, versatile enough and quick enough he believes to do both. One reason the Steelers did not pursue Max Starks again when he became a free agent is they did not think he was athletic enough to run the zone-blocking scheme.
Running backs have thrived in zone-blocking schemes. The Denver Broncos have been running the zone since the mid-1990s when Gibbs was their line coach, and it did not seem to matter who ran behind it, he was successful. Terrell Davis rushed for 2,008 yards one season. When he was hurt, someone named Olandis Gary ran for 1,159 yards in 12 games as a rookie. Mike Anderson was next and so on and so forth.
Mike Shanahan, the head coach of those Denver teams, selected Alfred Morris of Florida Atlantic in the sixth round for the Washington Redskins last year. Morris, running behind a zone-blocking scheme, set a Redskins record with 1,613 yards rushing.
Any doubt that Le'Veon Bell might like the new zone scheme with the Steelers?
"You have to have enough speed to threaten them, that's the big thing," Bicknell said of the backs running behind the zone blocks. "You don't have to be a 4.2 guy. You just have to have enough speed to threaten the outside, to make them think 'Hey, he could get around the edge,' and I think we have that.
"Then it's vision and toughness. It's not a sideways play, it's a downhill play if you run it right. What I like the best is when everybody thinks we're going outside and then we hit it right down the center of the field. That makes it tough for the defender."
Simply put, the back reads the tight end's block on the end defender. If he hooks him inside, the back runs outside. If he doesn't, the back cuts inside.
"It's kind of our job to make the reads clean for the running back, and then try to get that backside pursuit cut down, so that they can't make the play," Bicknell said of his linemen.
Holding off that backside pursuit often means a cut block, which is an offensive linemen diving at the lower legs of a defensive player. Those receiving that block hate it because they believe it carries a higher rate for a knee injury. Recall the angry response by the Steelers to Baltimore's use of the cut and chop blocks in the 2011 season opener, won by the Ravens, 35-7.
"Yes, there will be cut blocks," Bicknell said. "But it's not all the time you want to cut it. Sometimes, if you stay up, you can actually run people by the running back. So, he's running, you're blocking him and the running back can cut right off your butt."
If defensive players don't like it, said guard Ramon Foster, too bad. "We love that. There's defensive guys now who cut us when we pull. If we can give that favor back, more power to us."
The new zone-blocking scheme is popular with the linemen.
"It adds a dynamic to us," Foster said. "When you're doing power plays the entire game and they know what's coming, they can stack the box or anchor down. With this outside zone, it keeps them on their toes, keeps them honest, and it opens up to what we can do best. We're still a power team, it's just the outside zone caters to what we do most."
The Steelers signed cornerback Ryan Steed of Furman and tight end John Rabe of Minnesota and released defensive tackle Omar Hunter of Florida and cornerback Nigel Malone of Kansas State.
Gerry: The stretch is no good if you don't have the right RB
THURSDAY, 01 AUGUST 2013 WRITTEN BY GERRY DULAC
All the talk about zone blocking sounds good, but if the Steelers don’t have a running back who fits that type of attack or knows how to utilize that scheme, then the whole approach will be futile. To run an outside zone-blocking scheme, a team needs a running back who is patient enough to let the defense stretch itself toward the boundary and has the vision to find the gaps in the defense. And he has to be comfortable enough, and capable enough, to cutback against the pursuit. LeVeon Bell, their No. 2 draft choice, ran a lot of stretch plays at Michigan State and would appear to be a good fit for the system. That’s one of the reasons they drafted him so high. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are not those types of backs. They are more power-oriented backs who run inside, and the Steelers will still utilize a lot of the inside man-blocking techniques they’ve employed for years.
Will A Run Heavy Offense Bring The Steelers Success In 2013?
August 2nd, 2013 by Matt Loede
The Steelers early results from camp clearly has the team heading into a different direction – one that hasn’t been seen from the club since the days of Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris,
That direction is focused more on the run game, using rookie Le’Veon Bell, and two players who this offseason dedicated themselves to getting lighter and faster – Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer.
The threesome, if all wind up on the roster, could give teams a headache in 2013, and it is sounding more and more if the Steelers are going to have a big season, it might be built around this three-headed monster.
Today we look at the main reasons just why a run game may be successful and win in 2013 in the AFC North.
1. Pressure Off Ben – The last couple seasons has been QB Ben Roethlisberger take some vicious shots that will take years off his career and life. Last season they almost lost him for the rest of his NFL career, but luckily got him back. With the reality that he’s not going to last forever, the way to extend him is to no have him get crushed with 30-40 sacks every season (30 a year ago, 40 in 2011), and a run game will be the key to that this upcoming season.
2. Confidence for the line – No question that when you talk to offensive linemen, they will always say they love to run block more than pass block. If the Steelers employ a new zone-blocked running game as they have early into camp, it will give these young OL’s like David DeCastro and Mike Adams something to look forward to. The backs need to make sure to find the holes, but I would be willing to be the lineman love this new thought of running the ball more and a lot.
3. RB’s an Area of Strength – The Steelers lost WR Mike Wallace this offseason, and unless a deal gets done, could lose Emmanuel Sanders after the 2013 season. The running backs seem to actually be an area of strength for this team, with Bell already having the best camp of any of just about any player on the roster. Redman and Dwyer appear to be hungry and have something to prove after not getting the job done a season ago in an 8-8 season, so play to your area of strength, that being the backs.
4. Something Different – Going back to “Steelers Football” has been craved by fans for some time, and if the Steelers do it, there’s no doubt that other teams will follow. Problem is, at least for 2013, the Steelers will own the book on running and time of possession in 2013. They also will work to be more physical and outhit teams, something that it looked at times got away from them last season. If the Steelers have success, it will be a fresh new take on something that most teams have gotten away from in past seasons.
We need a good mix of pass\rush to be successful. We need to execute better on plays, especially pass plays
then we will run better.
We need to execute the pass successfully to open the run game....
I agree with this. It's become a passing-heavy league, with more emphasis on stopping the pass. But then look at the Rats last year. Rice was a beast. Having a threat of run AND pass makes you much more difficult to defend.
I think it will always be true... offenses that are not 1-dimensional will have the most success. Running opens up the pass. And passing opens up the run. If you can't do one of them well, the opposing defense will focus on taking away your strength.
Colin Dunlap: Le’Veon Better Answer The Bell
By: Colin Dunlap
August 5, 2013
Rookie Le’Veon Bell is trying to earn a job with a Steeler running game that ranked just 26th in the NFL in per-game yardage in 2012. (Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The Steelers held a fourth-quarter lead in 11 of 16 games in 2012.
The Steelers finished 2012 with an 8-8 record, missing the playoffs.
Know what’s the easy takeaway from the previous two sentences? The Steelers couldn’t churn through and melt away that clock as the game neared an end, gutting the hope of the opposition by keeping the ball on the ground and squeezing the last bits of life from the contest.
Enter rookie running back Le’Veon Bell. Or, well, at least that should be a heavy dose of the plan for the 2013 season.
When the Steelers drafted Bell out of Michigan State in the second round — with the 48th overall pick — the chatter immediately began about whether or not he would be the starter this season.
While such a role is pivotal (and I think he will start) there’s much more interest from where I sit on whether or not Bell will be the finisher.
Preferably, he can be both. Man, I sure hope so.
Because, that’s precisely what the Steelers need.
At 6-feet-1-inch, 244-pounds, Bell is a brawny back who has the ability to run behind a guard to grit out the tough yards, but also showed a counterbalance at Michigan State, where he was just as apt to bounce the play to the edge and make yards along the hashmarks.
Such versatility is needed in a ground game this year for the Steelers; a ground game that amassed just 1,537 yards last year as Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and the since-departed Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Rainey were the primary players to carry the football.
Certainly, the Steelers don’t have much of a recent track record with entrusting the run game to a first-year man, as Tim Worley came out of Georgia in 1989 and served as the last rookie running back to start for the franchise.
But, in all honesty, why not Bell? Why not now?
Again, I’m far more concerned with making him the unchallenged finisher, because, to me at least, that role will probably be just as important, but the Steelers would do well to anoint him the No. 1 back coming out of camp if all continues to go as it has at St. Vincent.
In three seasons, Dwyer has played in 21 games and, at least from this vantage point, has underwhelmed. While his back-to-back games of 122 and 107 yards against Cincinnati and Washington in late-October last season were impressive, he never again gained more than 56 yards in a game.
Might it be time to realize that Dwyer will, forever, be a complementary piece in the NFL and never a feature back? That’s the way I think.
As for Redman, he had that marvelous showing against the Giants in early-November of last season, ripping through them for 147 yards. In eight games he played thereafter, he had a combined 136 yards.
You want to put your ground game hopes in him? I sure don’t.
When the Steelers went out in the offseason and drafted Bell, they made a concerted effort to get better in the run game, to safeguard against going 8-8 again this season.
Here’s the thing though: Head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley should use Bell right from the jump, make the unopposed go-to guy on the ground as the starter.
If they are unwilling to put that much trust in the rookie, if they learned anything from last season, they would at least make him the closer.
I don't think the Steelers are going to be a heavy rushing-oriented team. The Steelers need to be better at rushing the ball but I don't think there will be a substantial increase in attempts.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rookie Le'Veon Bell, the team's second-round pick, is blowing away the competition to start at halfback. During live 11-on-11 he has ripped off several good runs. Bell has come out of the gate fast and continued to do so until he bumped knees in practice Friday with a teammate and missed a few practices. That is a minor bruise, however, and while they did not put him with the first team permanently before the injury, there is little doubt that he will start. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/team-re...1145--nfl.html
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