Could Bettis survive and thrive in today's NFL
Maybe your quick answer is, well yeah of course! Maybe it's, no way! Either way you can make a case for a back like Jerome Bettis trying to thrive in today's pass happy NFL. There's only a few select teams that really put an emphasis on running the ball now like most teams did 10-20 years ago, and further back.
The Vikings make a conscience effort to run with Peterson, to set up the pass. The 49ers run the Pistol Offense; 1 back set behind the QB who is also off the line. They can run or pass out of that, and Gore has had a good year. Still though, Bettis is a power back that got better as the game went on, getting 25 carries a game with a FB leading the way, and by the time the 4th quarter came a long he was running over people.
Hell the Ratbirds have a good FB and a good RB on their team and they still don't use them the way teams did in the past.
Teams aren't that patient now IMO; they want to score a lot of points and score quickly. Some may want to run late in the game to seal the win, IE the Vikings again for example, but more and more teams are wanting to pass as much as possible to put more distance between them and the other team.
Would the Steelers be patient enough to utilize a bruising RB now or would they just try and use him in spot duty like they do with Dwyer and Redman? Maybe he gets a series here and there where they run predominantly but they'll always go back to the pass sooner or later.