Steelers Run Game Looking to Rebound in 2009

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Go back to 2008, and it was not your typical type of Steelers winning season when it comes to offense. Usually the formula for the Steelers to win and go deep in the playoffs includes a physical, punishing running game and a passing game that does enough to get the job done. Not so in 08.

The running game was the weak spot on the Steelers when it came to offense, as they put up just 105.6 yards on the ground, while the passing game led by Ben Roethlisberger put up 206.3 yards per game. In the Super Bowl, the passing game clearly bailed out the offense, as Big Ben was able to pull out that last drive to get the job done in the 27-23 win.

So now we turn the book to 09, and the offense again is looking to get better when it comes to the running game, and that will come down to the backs as well to getting better on the O-line. The line, with a season under their belt, should be better at both run and pass blocking. The backs? It will be a question mark once again as you can flip a coin somedays on what your going to get.

Willie Parker is entering the final year of his deal, and says he won’t be a problem in the locker room, and is ready to be dominant once again like he was before he broke his leg late in the 2007 season. Last year in 11 games he had 791 yards (71.9 per game) with five touchdowns. His injuries are a concern, as well as his ability sometimes to simply disappear from games.

Parker had four 100-plus yard games in the regular season, and another in the playoffs against the Chargers. The problem was after his 115-yard effort against the Chargers on November 16th, he really didn’t do much of anything until the final game of the season vs Cleveland when he had 116 yards. In between were efforts of 37, 87, 25, 47 and 31 yards. That won’t get the job done.

It’s a critical year for Parker, as the Steelers have to find out if he is a player that is going to be able to be counted on, or one that actually has seen better days despite being only 29 years old in November. That’s exactly why the team picked upRahsard Mendenhall in the first round of last seasons draft.

Mendenhall played in just four games before breaking his shoulder, and had 58 yards on 19 carries. I am excited to see what role he’ll play in this offense, as theSteelers need another back to give them a spark and one that they can count on.

Then there is Mewelde Moore, who really saved this team in a couple of games last season and I am convinced that they would not have won the Super Bowl without him. Moore had 588 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, and his play was a huge lift in the first win over the Ravens, and also had 120 yards and twoTD’s vs the Bengals in the first game.

So with that, the team looks forward to running the football better in 08. Parker, Mendenhall and Moore will again be the key parts of that puzzle, it just remains to be seen if they can be better in that area.


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2 Responses to “Steelers Run Game Looking to Rebound in 2009”

  1. James Kelly says:

    With the addition of Tank Summers, a guard and a center (draft picks) and a free agent offensive tackle, the Steelers might be toying with the crazy notion of running the ball effectively (on rare occassions, of course).

    Regarding Willie Parker, he consistenly gained every available yard on any given carry last year (for a runner with his size and technique). In many cases he gained yardage my making defenders miss, by breaking tackles, or forging ahead for an extra yard or two after stopped. In short, he performed at a high professional level despite having virtually no running room throughout several games.

    Unfortunately, the same “look out” blocking technique displayed by the offensive line (truly a well-named unit) that led to Parker being stuffed in the backfield repeatedly also permitted Ray Lewis to enter the same time-space continuum as R. Mendenhall’s shoulder blade and put Big Ben on his back fifty-some times.

    The Steelers can draft running backs until the cows come home. But until their offensive line can open holes consistently, or knock defenders aside like bowling pins when they lead a power sweep, quality defensive opponents (like the Ravens, Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, Patriots, Colts, Titans, Vikings, etc.) will continue to dare them to run while stacking the deck against the pass, or blitzing (like the Eagles) to stop the pass before it’s thrown.

  2. Mark Baier says:

    Go with what is successful – Ben passing. If Ariens would have kept throwing it in the super bowl, Steelers would have swamped Cardinals. Right now, with the personnel Steelers have it makes more sense to set up the run with the pass not vice versa. Until we can get a back lilke Bettis again to compliment Fast Wullie, adn our O line gets better, passing game has to take priority.