View Full Version : Steelers Running GameTo Be Tested in 2008

05-28-2008, 07:51 AM
Steelers Running GameTo Be Tested in 2008 (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2008/5/27/540231/steelers-running-gameto-be)

by Blitzburgh (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/users/Blitzburgh)
http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/ (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2008/5/27/540231/steelers-running-gameto-be)
For much of this offseason, we have talked about the high volume of quality backs in Pittsburgh. Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Najeh Davenport, Gary Russell - any combination of those five is quite dangerous and our top 2 is arguably one of the best combos in all of football, even if Mendenhall has yet to take a snap of professional football.
Well, if the group is going to excel in 2008, it is not going to be easy. The Steelers' 2008 opponents are phenomenal against the run, and that goes nearly across the board, save two of our AFC North opponents Cleveland and Cinicinnati.

We all know the running game has been a staple of the Steelers offense for as long as one can remember, but we also know the guard has been changing under Bruce Arians. The offense has aired it out more frequently in recent years, but a successful running game has complimented that development. There's many reasons why Big Ben had a breakout year in 2007, but having his RB, Willie Parker, near the top of the rushing standings for most of the year, has to be considered one of them.

With all the issues surrounding our offensive line following a year when our star QB was sacked 47 times, it's imperative that we're able to slow down opponents' pass rushes and successfully move the chains via the ground game. Let's take a look at how our 2008 foes did against the run in 2007 (league rank against the run in parentheses):

Houston (19)
Cleveland (27)
Philadelphia (7)
Baltimore (2)
Jacksonville (11)
Cincinnati (21)
New York Giants (8)
Washington (4)
Indianapolis (15)
San Diego (16)
Cincinnati (21)
New England (10)
Dallas (6)
Baltimore (2)
Tennessee (5)
Cleveland (27)

Of our 13 opponents, only one is in the bottom third (Cleveland), with Cinicinnati at the very bottom of the second third. We face 3 of the top 5 rushing defenses, and actually that should read 3 of the top 4, as our own rushing defense finished 2007 ranked #3. We also face the #7, #8, and #10 ranked defenses against the run.

When you factor in the reality that Cleveland should be much, much better, and that San Diego is one of the best middle of the road rush defenses a team could ever hope to face, you can see where the concern comes from.
Granted, each year is different and some of these elite 2007 rush defenses will undoubtedly regress some in '08. But the fact of the matter is, unlike many areas of the game, a team's ability to stop the run usually isn't overly dynamic. When you have capable defensive linemen who can clog holes and able LBs to mop up behind them, you're usually set for multiple years. It starts with guys like Casey Hampton up front and they're usually able to sustain a high level of play year in and year out. So, despite whatever variances we may see unfold this coming year, I think it's fair to assume that we're going up against some stout rush defenses.

What does alll that mean for our chances in 2008? Well, potentially a lot of things, none of which are entirely clear just yet. It probably means that Big Ben will again be asked to play the role of Superman for this team. We had trouble grinding out tough yards in tight situations last year. We might encounter the same problem this year. It might mean that our offensive line is put under extrem duress, as they'll obviously be focused on finding the right combination of players and schemes to keep Big Ben upright more often this coming year. But they better not forget about the running game alltogether, because it's going to be tough sledding in that department. And if it is, it might just mean that Ben's put it even more obvious passing situations where opposing defenses can dig in and tee off against our much maligned offensive line.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens, but from the looks of it, this offense is going to have a very tough time getting cheap, easy yards in the running game.

05-28-2008, 09:01 AM
Im not worried about our running game at all..people like this think that just because the OL was a weak link last year automatically think it's going to struggle this year. Stuff like this just drives me nuts because people don't stop and think it through or do their research. Who cares what everybody else in the league is doing, we've taken steps to sure up our line, running game, and added more weapons for Ben. If the OL stays healthy in 2008 our running game will be just fine.

05-28-2008, 09:15 AM
That and our running game was not terrible last year, we would have had the leage leading rusher if FWP stayed healthy. Sacks is our concern and with Ben back there, sacks are a reality. He will hold the ball hoping for the big play so sack numbers will be relatively high and skewed because of it. I too think we will be fine. Helpng the line will be the multitude of weapons we now have available. D's will not be able to bring it all when we have that much on the field. Man, I just can't wait....:cope:

05-28-2008, 11:44 AM
Im with you TG... last year was the year for ALOT of firsts. First Year head coach, Off.co-ordinator, o-line coach, qb coach, FB (Carey Davis), C (Sean Mahan) RT (Willie Colon) and so on! With the exception of Mahan all of these ingredients have had one year to feel each other out. I expect MAJOR strides to be made in this offense this season.

On the other hand we have things in place that are finally NOT going to be worries anymore. Bens ability/confidence, Willies ability to be "the guy", Santonios ability to grow into a playmaker, WR depth, RB depth, short yardage style back, starters playing as return men and so on.

I think with a bit of "tweaking" Arians could have this offense in the top 5 soon. I think we have to be a team who is balanced close to 55/45 run/pass. That number may be a bit skewed depending on late games leads but i would like to see balance from our o. I'd also love to see a "short yardage" passing attack to start the games. I think more 3 step drops, combined with shorter routes, would also help in the area of protection.
Overall im excited, not worried about this Offense, i see BIG things happening this year!!

05-28-2008, 04:11 PM
One thing is certain. No defences will be able to throw everything at us with these kinds of weapons right now. What im really hoping is that we'll start running the ball more on the "short" 3. downs. We really struggled there last year. Ben convertet so many long 3 downs, but its the short 3 downs you face most of the time. Especially if we are going to run the ball a little more (which we must asume we will, at least compared to last year)

05-28-2008, 06:26 PM
I would like best a 45/55 run/pass ratio. Our best player is Ben (on offense anyway) and it would be best to keep the ball in his hands.

05-28-2008, 07:09 PM
Last year our running game stats were deceptive. Willie had a good year but the lack of quality OL stopped Willie far to many times especially in the red zone. The addition of Mendenhall and Hartwig along with a healthy Marvel will go a long way to fixing that situation.

05-28-2008, 07:25 PM
I would like best a 45/55 run/pass ratio. Our best player is Ben (on offense anyway) and it would be best to keep the ball in his hands.

I agree, im just hoping for double digit leads in most third quarters and us pilling up he runs in the 4th to put the game away! LOL, maye im just being a lil optimistic! But at crnch time i really want Ben to be the one making the plays! If he can stay in the top 10 in fewest sacks we will be a phenominal "O"

K Train
05-28-2008, 08:01 PM
he'll definitely be in the bottom half of that stat lol, not only does our line suck as pass protecting but he takes to many hits....thats just not gonna change, hes not a take what they give you kind of guy.

05-29-2008, 08:05 AM
not worried about the run game, just worried if the line would open up holes for the backs..

05-29-2008, 11:21 AM
not worried about the run game, just worried if the line would open up holes for the backs..

I'm not trying to be a smartass but isnt that the basis of the "run game"?

05-29-2008, 03:20 PM
You would be correct. Basically, a good OL can make any average back look like a superstar (see: Denver) and conversally a bad OL can make a pretty good back look like a pile of steaming dog crap.

05-29-2008, 06:08 PM
LOL, yeah i wasnt really sure where dude was going with that one... even the great LT looked like @ss through the first half of the season. In the 1st 12 games he only had 2 +100 yd games against the raiders and chiefs! In 8 of those games he had less than 80 yards.
Our run game can be assisted by a strong passing game and vice-versa. Teams stacked the box on parker last year and Ben had a career year... with the weapons we have this year, i see no reason Arians cant use the pass/run equally to make us a very dangerous O. If thats the case our oline doesnt have to be over-powering. They'll just have to sustain!

05-29-2008, 08:44 PM
Exactly. Except for Barry Sanders (he was different though) the Line makes the back.

05-30-2008, 07:50 AM
Can't wait to see the running game this year:cope:

05-30-2008, 09:47 PM
Some valid points. But some of those teams will be better, and some will be worse. We always need to be able to run the ball. If our OL does better this season, there is no doubt that we will be able to do that.