View Full Version : Denver Post: Steelers bypassing the run this season

Bronco Rob
11-04-2009, 08:02 AM
Steelers bypassing the run this season

By Alan Robinson
The Associated Press
Posted: 11/04/2009 01:00:00 AM MST

PITTSBURGH — Franco Dok Harris, the son of Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, took part in a different form of running as an independent candidate in Pittsburgh's mayoral race.

At least someone linked to the Steelers mounted a ground game this fall.

From Byron "Whizzer" White to Bill Dudley, John Henry Johnson to Harris, Jerome Bettis to Willie Parker, the Steelers and a strong running game have been synonymous. Two of the top 12 rushers in NFL history (Harris and Bettis) played for them, as did the Super Bowl career rushing leader (Harris) and the player with the longest run in Super Bowl history (Parker).

Since the present-day NFL emerged from the 1970 merger, the Steelers have rushed for 4,845 yards more than any other team — or about as many yards as Parker has gained during his career. Only the Cowboys and Broncos are within 7,000 yards of them.

But as fast as someone can say "Big Ben," the Steelers are shunning the run. They're altering seven decades of tradition behind Ben Roethlisberger's strong throwing arm, a talented group of receivers and the mind-set that winning football doesn't always translate into running off tackle 20 times a game.

Not even during Terry Bradshaw's best seasons in 1978 and 1979 did the Steelers throw as much, and as effectively, as they are now. Or run so little. They are averaging only 26.4 rushing attempts per game, the second-fewest in team history to the 24.6 attempts in 1991, Chuck Noll's final season as coach.

It's not that they can't run the ball — Rashard Mendenhall ran for 165 yards against San Diego on Oct. 4 — but Roethlisberger is throwing so accurately, the Steelers are staying and staying with the pass. Roethlisberger's 70.4 completion percentage would easily be a team record, and he has 11 touchdown passes and only six interceptions.

Twice this season, the Steelers (5-2) have rushed for fewer than 100 yards and won (36 yards against Tennessee, 82 against the Lions), something they once did infrequently.

"It's really how the season has unfolded," coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. "We're trying to do what's required for us to win."

With Parker in the final year of his contract and Mendenhall in his first season as a starter, the Steelers' running game is going through a transition as it averages 106.9 yards rushing per game, or nearly 30 yards fewer than in 2005. That has put a greater burden on Roethlisberger to carry the offense — and he has done it, helped by the deepest receiving corps he has had during his six seasons in Pittsburgh.

Hines Ward, at 33, is having one of his best seasons with 42 catches, or only two more than tight end Heath Miller. Rookie Mike Wallace (17.5 yards per catch) is providing a downfield threat to go with Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes (30 catches, 16.6 average).

"I think it's just having everybody healthy," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "The continuity, knock on wood, has been good, and if we can maintain it, we'll sustain being good."


11-07-2009, 02:24 PM
Not worthy of its own thread so putting it here...

Steelers like no huddle in small doses
Posted by Michael David Smith on November 7, 2009 2:33 PM ET
Whenever a team has success running the no-huddle offense, you can bet it's only a matter of time before fans start wondering why they don't do it all the time.

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has heard the questions, and he has a simple answer: It wouldn't work all the time, because the Steelers are better off using multiple personnel packages.

Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has written a piece examining why the Steelers only go no-huddle in certain situations, and it all comes down to Arians' belief that multiple personnel packages are necessary.

"It limits you way too much," Arians said. "It limits what you can do offensively. You take away a lot of your play-action game and things you can do with a game plan. You basically don't have a game plan. If you go no-huddle [all the time], shoot, I can take every night off.

"It's a tool you use to change the tempo of the game, but you're limited in your personnel. It's not something we want to do wholesale every game."

Still, the Steelers are expected to go no-huddle in certain situations on Monday night in Denver, in large part because the Ravens ran it so effectively last week against the Broncos: Baltimore went no-huddle 31 times in a 30-7 win over the Broncos.

So yes, the Steelers will go no-huddle at times. Just don't expect Arians to do it all the time.