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View Full Version : Bettis: Steelers will hit their stride if they run the ball



Captcoolhand
02-04-2010, 07:35 PM
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Jerome Bettis weaved through traffic at the Super Bowl as if he never retired from the game, although he was stopped a few times Wednesday.

The field spread before him was the famous "radio row" at the Super Bowl media headquarters, where Bettis hopped from station to station as a pitchman for Monster.com this week. The jobs he wanted to talk about most, though, belong to the Steelers, specifically those who work on their running game.

The Bus did not need team president Art Rooney II to inform him the Steelers need a better running game if they are to return to the Super Bowl.

"The problem the Steelers have is they weren't built to throw the football 40 times," said Bettis, who keeps close tabs on his former team and maintains a presence in Pittsburgh during the football season with his weekly show on ESPN Radio 1250. "They are built to run the football. You have these big guards, these big tackles, these guys go forward better than they go back. So you got to let them go forward and be the offensive line they can be. What that does, it makes the passing game even that much more lethal."
The good news, Bettis said, is not only do the Steelers have the pieces in place, but they do not need to change much to improve the run. It was a good thing they kept Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator and now all they need to do is "tweak" some things on offense, Bettis added.

"They have work to do, they're not in trouble, though. I think the only thing that needed to happen was emphasis needed to be put back on the running game. I think that's being done.

"There were a couple games last year they weren't able to close out and win because they couldn't pound the ball in the fourth quarter and close out the games. And it cost them, it cost them an opportunity to make the playoffs."

The Steelers ran nearly 60 percent of the time in 2004 when they became the first AFC team to win 15 regular-season games.

But they have an accomplished quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, so there is no need to go back to that heavy of a dose of the run, according to the Bus.

"I think it was a good move to have Arians back. All it needs is tweaking. It doesn't need a total overhaul. And if you would overhaul that, it would be a mistake. Ben is maturing into one of the best passers in the game. Now the running game has to develop.

"If the running game develops, now you have an offense that is close to unstoppable."

Unstoppable?

"Because you can pound the football, but you also have the ability to throw the football with the receivers and quarterback you have," Bettis explained. "So you're never out of a game and you always put pressure on a defense because of your ability to run and pass.

"If they can get back to closer to 50-50 -- not even 50-50 but closer to 50-50 -- then this team becomes dominant, because the defense is always going to be good."

Bettis recalled the 2004 training camp when Bill Cowher promoted Ken Whisenhunt to offensive coordinator after the Buffalo Bills hired Mike Mularkey as head coach. In 2003, Cowher and Mularkey changed the Steelers' offense to the Tommy Gun to their everlasting dismay. They promoted Amos Zereoue to starting halfback over Bettis because they felt he more suited their new plan to become a passing team behind quarterback Tommy Maddox.

The Steelers went 6-10 in 2003 and Cowher ordered a return to the running game.

"It starts with a philosophy," Bettis said. "When you go to training camp you say, 'We're going to run the football.' That's exactly what we did. There was a great example of that when we got to the goal-line drills. We ran the ball all four times."

And that was just with the first team. The second team followed suit, and when the Steelers had their second live goal-line drill in their 2004 camp, it was all run again. Even during practice, there were more of the so-called "middle drills," which were all run.

"It was the mindset that we are going to run the football and that was never more evident than in training camp," Bettis said. "And what that did was send a message and set the tone, that 'We are running the ball, gentlemen. So guys up front, get ready for it.' "

Bettis believes the 2010 Steelers can become even more formidable on offense than the 2004 team or his last one in 2005 that ended with a Super Bowl victory in his hometown of Detroit.

"I'm happy they didn't make a knee-jerk reaction and lose Arians because I really think Ben understands the philosophy and Bruce knows what Ben is good at and he knows what he's not good at. He makes sure the plays they run have the possibility of success.

"They were explosive this year and that was great to see. All you have to do is add the running game and I think this can become one of the dominant teams the Steelers ever had -- if they can do it."

His bottom-line message to them: "You go into training camp and you say, "We ... are ... going ... to ... run ... the ... football."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10035/1033336-66.stm#ixzz0ecJECoYY I couldn't agree more. We don't need to go back to strictly running but at least back closer to a 50/50 balance. :2cents:

75Steeler
02-04-2010, 08:04 PM
Tomlin talked all year about finding that balance (i never knew it was lost) it is just too bad that it didn't come till the last few games of the season when it was too late.

Woodson_DownUnder
02-04-2010, 09:19 PM
The Bus has overlooked two factors in the Steelers improvement, the DEFENCE that is aging & getting hurt isn't going to protect fourth quarter leads every single week and the O-line is a rabble. No wonder Arians has had to abandon the running game. Big Ben has benefited with his confidence in taking on the opposition when he escapes the pocket rush but the reality is 'SACKS = INJURY'.. take out that concussion during the season and the Steelers would get that extra win back on the board. Poor protection of the major franchise investment is asking for trouble. Surely priority in the draft needs to be for the o-line? Establishing the running game & protection of #7. :stirpot:

Sir Blitzelot
02-04-2010, 09:44 PM
Can't say I disagree with The Bus, I think the offense needs to be more balanced. I'm sorry, but I'm not a fan of seeing the Steelers coming out with a first & goal situation, in a five wide receiver set. :2cents:

DanRooney
02-05-2010, 04:30 AM
Despite throwing the ball, the Steelers still averaged holding the ball about 5 more minutes per game than their opposition. The problem comes down to that abysmal freakshow LeBeau labeled the secondary. You guys realize Oakland scored their drive with 1 minute and 40 seconds, had 2 timeouts to their disposal, and DIDN'T NEED TO USE ONE OF THEM. They technically put Ben's SB game-winning drive to shame.

I do agree that the 3rd and short empty backfield crap has to go. I'd like to see more mix of the run in those situations. Redzone playcalling needs to be a little more creative if we're not punching it in. (3 plays I loved by BA during the season: Moore's halfback toss for a TD during the Chargers game, Moore at FB with Mendenhall at RB where Moore converted a 3rd and short for an 8 yard gain, and a quick 2 step pass to Moore that resulted in a TD in the redzone. None of these SUCCESSFUL plays were used more than once which is why I remember them so well).

Stlrs4Life
02-05-2010, 09:24 AM
Excellent article, totally agree.

A Pac
02-05-2010, 09:29 AM
i didn't really understand why the steelers were throwing the ball so much. everyone knows that the steelers m.o. is smash mouth defense, pound the ball inside and pass on third down. the team i saw this year was different and it was obvious. bruce arians at time looks lost and it is clear that ben changes the lays at the line because he know more. a steadier running game would come if arians was gone. for god's sake, even the browns knew to get rid of him and we can hardly score.

steelcitysfinestXL
02-05-2010, 10:20 AM
Listen to what the man said:
"The good news, Bettis said, is not only do the Steelers have the pieces in place, but they do not need to change much to improve the run. It was a good thing they kept Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator and now all they need to do is "tweak" some things on offense, Bettis added."

We dont need to change much at all! The emphasis should be to run the ball BETTER! Better situational running. Better situational play calling and execution!

2008 (superbowl year) vs. 2009 (9-7)

Total offense: 4991 vs. 5941
Rushing Plays: 460 vs. 428
Rushing yards: 1690 vs. 1793
Yards Per Carry: 3.7 vs. 4.2
Total Passing yards: 3301 vs. 4148
Total passing (completions - attempts-Avg per play): 303-506-7.1 vs. 351-536-8.4
Time of Pos. 31:41 vs. 32:51

Thats for all the people who want to argue... "it wasnt the defenses fault" and/or "we need to run MORE". Our offense was more productive in every statistical category this season. We ran slightly less and got better production and ypc. We passed slightly more and were much more effecive. And we had 1:10 more T.O.P this season!!!

The difference between a superbowl season and a season missing the playoffs... was our defense!!! In '08 the defense stood on its head time and time again! The offense scored enough to win most games! This year, the offense scored enough to blow alot of teams out (minus a terrible cleveland game) and the defense could barely stop anyone when it counted!

Tweak the offense and FIX the Secondary! Thats the formula for 2010 along with praying we stay healthy!

SteelerFan87
02-09-2010, 10:23 PM
We need a true blocking fullback. We don't have to go back to a run first team, but we need to have the ability to impose our will physically in situations where you need to run. If Arians' idea of focusing more on the running game is just calling more running plays, it's not going to work. That wasn't the problem. The problem was situational running. We couldn't get an inch, let alone a yard, in short yardage situations. We couldn't pound the ball consistently to close out games. Mendenhall is a good back, and he'll get alot of yards, but there's more to it than that, and we need to focus more on helping him get those tough yards when we need them.

Black@Gold Forever32
02-09-2010, 10:33 PM
Listen to what the man said:
"The good news, Bettis said, is not only do the Steelers have the pieces in place, but they do not need to change much to improve the run. It was a good thing they kept Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator and now all they need to do is "tweak" some things on offense, Bettis added."

We dont need to change much at all! The emphasis should be to run the ball BETTER! Better situational running. Better situational play calling and execution!

2008 (superbowl year) vs. 2009 (9-7)

Total offense: 4991 vs. 5941
Rushing Plays: 460 vs. 428
Rushing yards: 1690 vs. 1793
Yards Per Carry: 3.7 vs. 4.2
Total Passing yards: 3301 vs. 4148
Total passing (completions - attempts-Avg per play): 303-506-7.1 vs. 351-536-8.4
Time of Pos. 31:41 vs. 32:51

Thats for all the people who want to argue... "it wasnt the defenses fault" and/or "we need to run MORE". Our offense was more productive in every statistical category this season. We ran slightly less and got better production and ypc. We passed slightly more and were much more effecive. And we had 1:10 more T.O.P this season!!!

The difference between a superbowl season and a season missing the playoffs... was our defense!!! In '08 the defense stood on its head time and time again! The offense scored enough to win most games! This year, the offense scored enough to blow alot of teams out (minus a terrible cleveland game) and the defense could barely stop anyone when it counted!

Tweak the offense and FIX the Secondary! Thats the formula for 2010 along with praying we stay healthy!

Thank you for posting this..........The special teams (kick coverage) and defense blowing 4th quarter leads was the biggest problem in 2009.......The offense was very good but can use improvement in the red zone........

I expect the defense to have better overall health next year which should help solve the 4th quarter meltdowns......I pray and keeping my :crossfingers: that the kick coverage is better next year.....

ejsteeler
02-10-2010, 12:03 PM
Thank you for posting this..........The special teams (kick coverage) and defense blowing 4th quarter leads was the biggest problem in 2009.......The offense was very good but can use improvement in the red zone........

I expect the defense to have better overall health next year which should help solve the 4th quarter meltdowns......I pray and keeping my :crossfingers: that the kick coverage is better next year.....

Very true, but you left out that if we had an effective run game, the opposing offense sits and watches and we don't have to worry about a defensive metltdown. Granted, they will be improved this year I believe, but it is still better to have our offense on the field than the opponents.

BlitzburghRockCity
02-10-2010, 12:52 PM
Our redzone efficiency was horrific from the midway point of the season till the end. You just can't continously settle for field goals, or worse yet take penalties that push you out of FG range either. When you can't run the ball, teams know it and they just drop back into coverage and dare you to throw it when everyone is playing on a short field and double covered.

You have to run the ball, you just have to be able to do it, period. I don't want to be 3 yds and cloud of dust anymore, that's not who we are, but something has to give. We've got Mendenhall who's perfectly capable of running between the tackles, but our run blocking is just terrible and play calls in the run game are just as bad. You can't just run up the middle and expect to pull it off when everyone knows you suck at it. Running the ball is a mindset as much as it is execution too. Honestly, I don't know if we'll get back to that point or not, because as long as Arians is here with this offense, we're going to be a pass first unit that runs as an after thought. It's quite clear that we are going to be a team like the Colts or Saints now, where you just keep throwing it and throwing it, even with a lead, until the game is out of reach.

Our problem is, we go back into that old Steeler mode of get up by a small lead and then try and protect it, and since we can't run that didn't work out so well.

LatrobePA
02-10-2010, 01:03 PM
Don't forget the redzone sacks!!

BlitzburghRockCity
02-10-2010, 01:08 PM
And that goes with not being able to run, when teams know you have to pass they can either drop everybody back and dare you to throw or send the house and sack you or get you to false start or hold. No matter what, we stunk last year and that has to be priority one for next season; fix the redzone efficiency and run the ball atleast alittle bit.

steelers4life66
02-10-2010, 04:57 PM
The Bus has overlooked two factors in the Steelers improvement, the DEFENCE that is aging & getting hurt isn't going to protect fourth quarter leads every single week and the O-line is a rabble. No wonder Arians has had to abandon the running game. Big Ben has benefited with his confidence in taking on the opposition when he escapes the pocket rush but the reality is 'SACKS = INJURY'.. take out that concussion during the season and the Steelers would get that extra win back on the board. Poor protection of the major franchise investment is asking for trouble. Surely priority in the draft needs to be for the o-line? Establishing the running game & protection of #7. :stirpot:

You hit the mark buddy. I also think we should concentrate on the o-line. The D needs help to but I believe we could pick up a good safety in the 3rd or 4th round. Those first 2 picks need to be for the o-line.

andyg1984
02-10-2010, 07:21 PM
wish in one hand and sh^t in the other and see which gets filled first .. hartwig and the RG combo does not really match up vs any1 in the north let alone legitimate competition .. if you tivo games and watch the interior it is quite obvious what the problem is .. worst part is this draft does not look like it has any elite interior OL prospects - especially compared to last year ..

tg, what has you sold on mendenhall being an inside runner other than his build?