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Thread: Steelers likely to reconstruct blocking style

  1. #1
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    Steelers likely to reconstruct blocking style

    per PPG [URL][/URL]

    Sept 19, 2013
    By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Steelers have rushed for 75 yards in the first two games of the season, which is the same amount of yards "Fast" Willie Parker covered in the longest run in Super Bowl history in 2006. It has taken the current Steelers running backs 31 attempts to match the historic trip Parker took through the Seattle defense in Super Bowl XL.

    If that's not enough to drive the point home about the Steelers' running woes then consider this: 34 players in the NFL this season have rushed for more yards than the entire Steelers team.

    It should come as no surprise then that the paltry rushing statistics represent the worst two-game start to a season in franchise history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

    The leading rusher Monday night in a 20-10 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals was Felix Jones, who had 37 yards on 10 carries. The leading rusher in the Week 1 loss against Tennessee was LaRod Stephens-Howling, who had 19 yards on six attempts.

    No wonder coach Mike Tomlin channeled Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll Tuesday when he was asked about running-game issues.

    "The problems are many," Tomlin said.

    The coaches have identified the major problems and are trying to implement solutions this week. They are shrinking the playbook and planning to call more outside zone running plays.

    The Steelers practiced zone blocking through the spring and summer and expected it to be a staple of the offense, but offensive coordinator Todd Haley has not called one zone running play since Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was injured early in the opener against Tennessee on an outside zone play.

    Right tackle Marcus Gilbert said using the zone blocking more will help jump-start the running game because opposing teams understand how to stop the plays the Steelers have been running for years in their power- blocking scheme.

    "We're going to use that a lot more," Gilbert said Wednesday after practice. "We barely used it in first two games. That will really help us out. Teams saw we were a gap, downhill team. Now, we can throw different stuff at them and change it up.
    "We can go power or use a zone scheme. We got away from it after Pouncey went down. We haven't used it. That was working for us in the preseason when we were knocking out yards. I think we'll come back to that this week."

    The Steelers have not rushed for more than 100 yards in eight consecutive regular-season games, dating to 2012. This from a franchise that used to churn out individual 100-yard rushers on an almost weekly basis.

    Jerome Bettis
    had 50 100-yard rushing games in his career. Franco Harris did it 47 times. Parker, in a much shorter career, did it 26 times.

    But it appears opposing teams have caught on how to stop the Steelers. Or the current linemen aren't as effective as their predecessors. Whatever the case, the zone blocking is making a comeback, and the linemen are buying in that it will help them.

    "A lot of teams know [us] as a power team," Gilbert said. "When they see us in certain formations, they're going to bring a safety down to the box. Teams know who we are. They study us for years. We have to get this outside zone scheme going so it can free up our receivers. We'll open it up and go play-action so we can create big plays for the receivers.

    "We're going to go back to what we're best at. That's by minimizing the playbook and doing all the plays we're good at."

    Miller returns to practice

    Tight end Heath Miller was a full participant in practice for the first time since last season, and his availability for the Chicago game Sunday night will be determined later in the week. Miller, rehabilitating from major knee surgery, was activated to the 53-man roster after training camp but did not play in the first two games.

    "We'll see how it feels in the morning and try to keep pushing it and see if it holds up," Miller said after practice. "After two or three days in a row, we'll see where we're at. I felt pretty good. I'm encouraged by how I felt today."

    Adjusting the approach

    The first step in solving a problem is recognizing that there is one. In years past, the Steelers dictated to other teams and forced them to adjust.

    With an 0-2 record and problems aplenty on offense and defense, veteran safety and captain Ryan Clark said the players and coaches have to take a different approach.

    "We have to find the best way for this team to be effective, the best way for this group of people to be effective," Clark said.

    "What we have to do now is lean on our strengths, not to necessarily mask our weaknesses, but to overcome our weaknesses. The people on the team have to understand where we're strong, what we're good at. The coaches are finding ways where the positives can outweigh the negatives.

    Quick hits

    In addition to Miller, nose tackle Steve McLendon (hamstring) and cornerback Curtis Brown (illness) were full participants in practice. ... Running back Le'Veon Bell (foot) and outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (heel) were limited participants... Cornerback Cortez Allen and defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) did not practice. ... The Steelers signed defensive back Devin Smith to the practice squad to replace Isaiah Green, who was activated to the 53-man roster Tuesday after kicker Shayne Graham was released. Smith, who played at Wisconsin, spent training camp with the Steelers.

  2. #2
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    They practiced it all Spring and Summer and Haley refuses to call any runs using ZBS.
    I wish people would/could leave politics out of a Steelers Football Forum.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by pittpete View Post
    They practiced it all Spring and Summer and Haley refuses to call any runs using ZBS.
    Took the words right out of Chadman's mouth..
    Early Addition Mock (3 Round Version)

    Fix the Run Defence Mode:

    1. DaRon Payne
    2. Josey Jewell
    3 Kerryon Johnson

  4. #4
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    Yep, something's gotta give. The players and coaches are clearly not even in the same area code, much less same page....

  5. #5

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    Couple things didnt make sense here:

    1. If we're gonna use a power blocking scheme, doesn't Dwyer make the most sense to carry the ball given that he made the most yards out of this scheme last year and it was the zone blocking in the preseason that confused him at times.

    2. Why didn't we keep Max. I thought we got rid of him because we were going to zone blocking. And we didn't zone block. And Ben got pummelled even more. There's some crazy missing logic here.

    3. Haley is a tool. Self explanitory and already mentioned.

  6. #6

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    After you call a zone play and your prized 1st round draft pick ends the season of your prized All-Pro Center, I would perhaps be reluctant to go back to that well...apparently, the scheme was not being followed by Pouncey or DeCastro...

  7. #7

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    The team is total disarray offensively. It's as if there is total chaos on offense. The Steelers hire a line coach that uses the ZBS, they draft and train linemen to implement the ZBS and then Haley doesn't use the tools he's given. He's trying to pound a nail with a screwdriver. He really needs to go.


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  8. #8
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    I don't claim to know as much about formations, plays, and blocking schemes as a paid NFL coach. But I do play sports regularly and one thing I know is you have to have your head in the game. I was very irritated to hear the announcers say we were substituting players after the Paulson catch/fumble when the obvious approach would be to get to the line and get a play off. Assume victory formation and take a knee for crying out loud! Aside from his approach on how to utilize the players, Haley needed to run a play and secure that gain, first and foremost! That lack of attentiveness to the situation could very well have cost us the game.
    Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women.

  9. #9
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    did anyone besides me laugh when gilbert was quoted as saying "we're known as a power running team"? maybe he was referring to the DE's that keep running over him.


  10. #10

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    The Steelers practiced zone blocking through the spring and summer and expected it to be a staple of the offense, but offensive coordinator Todd Haley has not called one zone running play since Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was injured early in the opener against Tennessee on an outside zone play.
    And Gilbert said:
    "We can go power or use a zone scheme. We got away from it after Pouncey went down.
    I don't know a lot about blocking, but you guys that are getting on Haley for not calling any plays using it - it sounds like we ran some before Pouncey went down (?) - are you saying Haley has to go because he didn't call zone blocking plays AFTER that? I'm wondering if maybe we held off because we didn't have a center who knew our scheme when he went down ...?

    We got our "6-PACK" - time to work on a CASE!



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