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A Big Question About the Steelers – Will the Run Game Show Itself in 2009?

Going around the web looking for some good Steelers news before training camp starts is not easy, as there’s that lull in the air. Today though saw an interesting article by Matt Bowen at the National Football Post about the concerns of the teams in the AFC North. The question he poses about the Steelers – the return of the run game:

Not much you can say about a team that just won the Super Bowl, but if the Steelers want to repeat – and hold off the Ravens in the division – then the running game has to be better in Pittsburgh.

We all know that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can make plays in the passing game, but the Steelers still need to use their ground game to establish ball control and grind out victories in the fourth quarter without counting on Big Ben to pull wins out of a hat. Willie Parker, coming off a career-low 3.8 yards per carry, still is a threat any time he has the ball in his hands, but he needs to stay healthy. And the Steelers’ offensive line, which puts Roethlisberger at risk every time he drops back to pass, needs to be better at the point of attack. Getting second-year back Rashard Mendenhall back in the mix will help take some of the load off Parker, keeping both backs fresh for another expected deep playoff run. Plus, it will make Roethlisberger a better quarterback and open up more options down the field in the passing game.

The Steelers finished 23rd in the NFL last season in total rushing yards per game (105.6), and for us to see them in Miami this February, it has to improve. This should be a top priority when this club puts on the pads in camp.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Ed Burns

    July 19, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    We have to run the ball better this season. I think Mendenhall and Frank Summers will be big factors in improving our running game.

  2. Jay

    July 19, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    I agree. I’d love t see parker’s carries reduced in favor of Mendenhall. In fact, since FWP has such poor RB vision (yeah he got 1,000 plus yards in recent years but mostly on speed and I remember plenty of games where he left TONS of yards on the field by not hitting holes—watch the tape), I’d love to see Pittsburgh trade him (and maybe a draft pick) for someone like Marion Barber who would definitely benefit from our system in lieu of Dallas’s. Oh, it’ll never happen but Barber and Mendenhall is WAY, WAY, WAY better than Parker and Mendenhall. Top end speed is overrated especially if you don’t hit the big ones regularly because you don’t have the RB instinct to find the holes; besides, Mendenhall has break away speed; albeit not as fast as FWP, but break away speed nonetheless….OUr line CAN’T be that bad in ALL facets of the offensive scheme. Pass blocking, yeah, but we have some pretty nasty road graders (i.e., CK, Colon, Starks and now Urbik). I believe as nice, pleasant and refreshing a surprise as Stapleton was (being undrafted and all) as a pass blocker, he really hurt us in the short yardage, right side of the line running game where we like to go so much. Whatever the case may be, we do need to run the ball better this year especially in the red zone.

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