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View Full Version : Fast Willie's Big Plays Have Disappeared



NOVA STEELERS
12-07-2007, 07:20 AM
Posted Dec 6th 2007 6:00PM by JJ Cooper

If the Steelers are going to beat the Patriots, they will have to protect Ben Roethlisberger, they'll have to contain Randy Moss and pressure Tom Brady, but beyond everything else, they have to find where Willie Parker has gone :dunno: and get him back to replace the plodding, fumble-prone back who's been impersonating him over the last month :banging:

The Steelers may have lost to the Jets :cursin: but considering how bad their running game has been, it's actually fortunate that they have made it through the past month with just one loss. The Steelers' defense has been outstanding :bigthumb: the passing game is very good (when Roethlisberger has time to throw). But way too often the Steelers offense have forced Roethlisberger to bail them out after the running game leaves them in difficult situations :nono:

Going back through the stats, there's no smoking gun or eureka moment that singles out what Parker's problems are. But it is clear that he's having some problems. Over the past four games, Parker has gained two yards or less on 25 of his 62 attempts on first down. That's 25 drives where the Steelers faced second and eight or longer (including six where Parker was stuffed for no yards or negative yardage :banging:
But that's not the worst of it. The Steelers' real problems have come on second down. On 24 of Parker's 47 carries on second down went for two yards or less and eight of those carries were stuffed for no yards or negative yardage. One of those one yard gains came on second and one, so that's still a successful play, but the 23 other stuffs came in situations that put the Steelers in third down, often third and long.

It's worth noting that Parker has become a two-down back--none of his carries in the past four games have come on third down as he's completely handed that role (and the short-yardage role) to Najeh Davenport.

Finding out that Parker is stuff for little or no gain frequently isn't much of a surprise to Steelers fans. But what's really happened is that Parker is no longer getting the big plays that make up for his busted plays. Over the last four games Parker has one run of longer than 20 yards, exactly as many as Roethlisberger has over the same span. He had nine runs of 20 yards or longer in his first eight games, including at least one 20-yard gain in six of those games.

While many Steelers fans (me included) prefer seeing Parker back there with a fullback in front of him, Parker has actually been more productive when running out of a single-back set (usually in a two or three-tight end formation). With a fullback in front of him, Parker has 128 carries for 456 yards (3.56 average per carry) with a fullback and 157 carries for 637 yards (4.1 yards per carry) when carrying the ball as a single setback. The reality is that whether the Steelers go two tight ends (with Matt Spaeth) or a fullback (with Carey Davis or Dan Kreider) they aren't getting exceptional blocking.

What's more puzzling is the Steelers decision to give Parker most of his carries up the middle :dunno: Not only does Parker have great speed, but he also is running behind a line that is better at movement--guards Kendall Simmons and Alan Fancea are above-average at pulling out to lead a sweep.

The number bear out that the Steelers do better when Parker runs to the outside. He's gained 216 yards on 26 carries runs to the sideline (as defined by STATS Inc). That 6.0 yards per carry on sweeps is dramatically better than his 849 yards on 249 runs inside the tackles (3.5 yards per carry).

If you've read the offensive line breakdowns here this season you won't be surprised to find out that the Steelers biggest problem is in running up the middle. Sean Mahan and Kendall Simmons have not shown the strength to drive defensive linemen off the ball :cursin: While the numbers are impacted a little bit by runs in short-yardage situations, Parker is averaging a brutal 2.8 yards per carry (66 carries for 182 yards) on runs up the middle.

If you need evidence that struggles up the middle aren't entirely Parker's problem, check out Najeh Davenport's numbers up the middle--he has averaged only 3.3 yards on runs up the middle and 7.4 yards on all of his other carries.

But if there is one sign of hope, it came in Sunday's win over the Bengals. While it might be hard to see it from the stats, Parker actually had one of his best games in a while. He showed the cutbacks moves to turn some busted plays into solid gains, and had a couple of runs where he almost broke off big gains.

The Steelers don't need Parker to go for 150 yards against the Patriots, but they do need him to avoid getting stuffed nearly as often as he has in recent weeks--it's not fair to Ben Roethlisberger to expect him to keep bailing the Steelers out in second and third and long. If Parker can't do that, it's time to turn to Najeh Davenport more often :willybs:



I agree with alot of what is said thru out this article....... FWP needs to use his speed and get to the outside, every time he runs up the middle he is either running into one of his blockers or is being met head on by a D player

lets hope that the bungels game showed some new life out of FWP :crossfingers:

SteelCityPride08
12-07-2007, 08:46 AM
yeah he's doing ok but there are no holes for him to explode. our offensive line needs to do a better job getting those blockers out of the way.

I think wearing those arm sleeves when it was raining was the reason why he fumbled. Jerome Bettis taught him to wear them but Jerome also has bigger arms to secure the ball. When there is parcipitation he shouldn't wear them, when its dry he should wear them.

BlitzburghRockCity
12-07-2007, 08:52 AM
Our running game has been basically non existant for the last month. FWP is partly to blame for not seeing the holes better and just running up into the pile..but at the same time he's been caught countless times in the backfield without even a chance to get going because the OL is letting the pressure get through and blowing up the play before it starts.

We need a solid running game if we're going to make some noise in the playoffs. We can stop the run just fine but running the ball ourselves has been inconsistent at best.

DIESELMAN
12-07-2007, 10:53 AM
I'd say the one and only way Willie is going to magically start runnin the ball is to get to the outside. Their aged LB's as the game wears on won't be able to pursue. Running up the middle will be very hard, one we don't have the OL to make holes and the Patsies DL (Wilfork and Warren) will be blowing Mahan up on damn near every play, not being pessimistic but realistic.

AZ_Steeler
12-07-2007, 12:22 PM
If FWP was to have a break out game and become that household name again for being a prolific RB in the NFL then this is the game where he needs to step up and become the Willie of old... the one that holds the NFL record for the longest TD run in the SB... the one who is the first Steeler to ever rush for 2 200 yard games in a single season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.... This Sunday is Willie's time and he needs to make the most of it!

black an gold 4 life
12-07-2007, 12:29 PM
WILLIE PROBLEM IS VISION, HE NEEDS 2 WORK ON C EVERYTHING BETTER EVEN HE ADMITTED IT,BUT HE SHOULD B RAN 2 THE OUT SIDE MORE, THEY SHOULD MIX IT UP, WITH THAT I'M SO HYPED BECAUSE ANTHONY THE HIT MAN SMITH SAID WE WILL WIN, 2 ME THAT MEANS THE D IS READY, I HOPE BIG BEN IS READY AS WELL THE O-LINE HAS 2 STEP UP BIG TIME 4 US, WE WILL WIN SUNDAY FELLOWS 31-US 28 CHEATERS

Ambridge
12-07-2007, 08:41 PM
I'm starting to wonder if Willie is getting wore out??
He just looks like he's running very flat and slow like he has 10 pound barbells tied around his ankles. Not to mention that he's getting sub-par performances from the O-line......SEAN MAHAN:dunno:.....and no Fullback:dunno:!!

Mike Tomlin
12-07-2007, 08:48 PM
If FWP was to have a break out game and become that household name again for being a prolific RB in the NFL then this is the game where he needs to step up and become the Willie of old... the one that holds the NFL record for the longest TD run in the SB... the one who is the first Steeler to ever rush for 2 200 yard games in a single season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.... This Sunday is Willie's time and he needs to make the most of it!The last 2 games i've seen that Willie again it's just been on very bad fields. I think this is the game where he'll breakout for 200.

Koopa
12-07-2007, 08:57 PM
The last 2 games i've seen that Willie again it's just been on very bad fields. I think this is the game where he'll breakout for 200.

that's what i was about to say, we have the worse field in all of football, i think my high school practice field is better, so that's one reason he sucks, and another reason he sucks is because he's just overrated out the *** by steeler fans and each week he shows why he went undrafted, sure our oline sucks nuts, but even when they do good he still can't run for ****, he has over 1000 yards by default, it's hard not to get a 1000 yards when you have rushed the ball about 40 times more then anyone else in the league........... willie will get about 90 yards sunday on about 30 carries..........