When does Willie Parker Officially Become THE Pittsburgh Steelers Feature Back?
By James Pete
July 3rd, 2007
I know that most of you are going to say publically, “WILLIE PARKER IS the Steeler back, look at what he’s done the last two years!” Of course you would be referencing last season’s 1,494 yard, and the Super Bowl season’s 1,202 yards. On the outside, you are going to provide the world with “Fast” Willie Parker support. You’re going to make Willie Parker sound like the second coming of Walter Payton.
On the inside, however, you aren’t going to be thinking that. On the inside you’re going to be thinking back to the 6′2″, 230 pound Franco Harris, that pounded through defensive lines to the tune of four Super Bowls. You are going to be thinking about 6′2″, 225 pound Merril Hoge. You are thinking about fireplug Barry Foster at 5′9″, but 230 pounds. You think about 6′0″, 250 pound Bam Morris (and remember that the offense just wasn’t as good with scatback Errick Pegram back there with Morris). Finally, you think about 5′11″ Jerome Bettis. All were BIG, North/South trap runners who would make you pay if you got in front of them. Then there’s 5′10″, 210 pound burner Willie Parker. No, he’s not a typical Steeler back at all.
Most of you are thinking it, admit it. Most of you are secretly hoping that Najeh Davenport takes his 6′1″, 247 lb frame, and uses it for better purposes than dumping in garbage cans. You’re hoping he realizes his potential, and takes the job from Parker. Most of you groaned when they sighed when they signed 6′1″, 235 pound Kevan Barlow, and secretly hoped that his sloppy performances for San Francisco and New York were because they WEREN’T the Steelers. Most of you silently CHEERED, when they resigned the 5′10, 225 lb lifetime reserve, Verron Haynes, hoping that he could get a chance to become a North/South runner…WHO CAN CATCH! Most of you then think, “and you could use Willie Parker in between those other guys. You know, he’s a good change of pace back.”
In the back of every Steelers’ fans’ mind is the thought that Willie Parker isn’t consistent enough to be the every down back for the Steelers. You see some 60 yard performances in between the 130 and 200 yard performances, and figure we’d be better off with that back that blows out 90 yards a game. Most see the 13 touchdowns that Willie Parker scored last year without a consistent BIG back, and cheered…but figured he was only going to be asked to do it one year.
You can’t get over his size, and what he does with it. You can’t get over that he has games where defensive penetration stops him in his tracks, but he always manages to get it back the next game. You can’t get over the fear that someone so small, has to be fragile, even though he’s only missed one game in his two years as a starter. Most of you see a bit of a fractured line, and think that a back that can plow THROUGH a defense, is better than one that can AVOID a defense.
You secretly hoped that T.J. Duckett would find his way to a Steeler contract. You danced with thoughts of Ron Dayne coming from Denver. You never told anyone, but wanted that punk from Baltimore to give it a shot behind the Steeler line. Imagine, Jamal Lewis, at 6′0″ and 240 pounds, gearing up to shred the Browns, again, behind the Steelers front five. You had visions of LenDale White during last season’s draft. You had visions of Tony Hunt in this one’s.
What you didn’t have, was visions of another season with a 1,500 yard back that was such a different style runner than any that we are used to. You see Erric Pegram when you see Willie Parker. You don’t see the All-Pro, that was just as much of the guts in the Super Bowl run two years ago as Jerome Bettis.
I know that’s how you feel, because as much as I hate to admit it, I feel the same way.
When do you…do WE…allow for the fact that FAST Willie Parker is THE Pittsburgh Steelers #1 option out of the backfield?
I’m starting today.
Let’s hope that Davenport, Barlow and Haynes can FIT IN with our very own 1,500 yard All-Pro. Let’s look forward to the defenses that STILL take him for granted, and get roasted for the big gain, and the big game.
Let’s get ready for Willie Parker to be the Feature Back that he already is.
This was one of the comments that was left at the site :
July 4th, 2007 at 4:02 pm
…Blah, blah, blah. I’m so sick of hearing that Willie’s not the man. He’s not the big back we need. He can’t run between the tackles and he can’t withstand the pounding. That’s just garbage. Willie Parker is not the problem fellas…he is our best offensive player and a playmaker at that! Let us improve our line and we could run the ball all day! Heck, most of the time we do. 2700 yards and double digit tds in two years is quite impressive. Many of you naysayers say he didn’t run vs. the Ratbirds and other tough teams. I say the line got manhandled and LT couldn’t run behind our line in those games. Our D shut down Larry Johnson…does that mean he stinks??? I don’t think so. Just as I don’t think we need the desired “big back”. Quit crying and be happy for Fast Willie and support our most valuable player!
I agree with the majority of that, that's why I included it. The only thing I didn't really agree with is that I don't think it would hurt to have a "big back"--and we DO have some big ones with Verron, Najeh, and Kevan. It's just that they're acceptable, and maybe even good--just not "incredible" like we'd like our big rb to be.
But to ME, our "feature back" (Willie) IS incredible over-all. He's not perfect, but then no one is.