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Steelers have a full-time fullback? No thanks

If you’ve been wondering whether or not new Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley is going to emphasize the running game more then I present you with further evidence of this possibility.

Isaac Redman was quoted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette stating that David Johnson will indeed be the full-time fullback heading into the 2012 season. This announcement comes on the heels of comments by offensive lineman Willie Colon and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who both said it was clear the running game is more advanced and has much greater depth and emphasis on it.

Personally, I don’t like it for a couple of reasons. First, if you are going to have a true fullback in this offense then go get a real fullback!! David Johnson continues to have Rashard Mendenhall’s cleat marks on his back because he couldn’t get his ass through the hole fast enough to actually be a lead blocker! This resulted in numerous occasions where Mendy would have to throttle down in order to give Johnson time and this resulted in no gains or lost yardage.

Secondly, why did the team go get Leonard Pope this offseason? Yes, he could still be an H-back type but then that leads to the question of why did you draft Oregon tight end David Paulson who may have fit the H-back role even better. Call me confused and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time, but I fail to see where the offense is headed in terms of fullbacks versus H-backs versus tight ends.

Lastly, does this truly signal a move to more running? I’m still not convinced it does and instead means more quality running attempts versus a quantity of attempts, but at what cost? A fullback on the field means one less receiver. Not the direction I like.

Let’s go ahead and assume that Haley is returning to the days of ground and pound for a second and what do you have? A fairly pissed off fan base that’s what you have. Chances are I’m ranting for no reason here because my gut still tells me this is going to be a pass-first offense but I don’t like the tea leaves I’m reading right now.

We need to score points! Our defense is aging and Dick Lebeau seems to have gotten complacent which means more vanilla schemes and arrogant calls and we know where that got us in January. The knock on former coordinator Bruce Arians  (besides too many wide receiver screens) was that this team struggled mightily in the red zone and there is strong statistical evidence to support that. The last thing I am is an Arians’ apologist because I’m glad he is gone strictly because of the red zone blues but I think he was in a no-win situation to a degree too. When he called ‘run’ the crowd screamed pass and when he passed the crowd screamed run. He really couldn’t win but that was still on him and the players for lack of good design and poor execution. Have fun in Indy Bruce.

That isn’t the issue here though. What this really boils down to is if you are going to have a true fullback then get a true fullback! I’m a firm believer in a pass-first mentality in the NFL today and would love nothing more than to see a base offense of 3-wide receivers but now I’m starting to wonder.

I honestly do have faith in what Haley has planned, but I also have some concerns. I don’t put much into anything Roethlisberger says simply because he has always been a bit over-dramatic so I will listen to the linemen and backs for now. As it looks in May of 2012, get used to the fullback once again Steeler Nation but don’t expect John L. Williams to come out of the tunnel.

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