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What Do The Steelers Do To Improve The Run Game In 2013?

To a man, the Steelers run game simply wasn’t good enough to get the job done in 2012. The position will be in flux big time this offseason, with Rashard Mendenhall being an unrestricted free agent, and Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman both being restricted free agents.

After his suspension late in the season, one would think that Mendenhall will for sure be gone in 2013 unless he comes back with a huge hometown discount.

Dwyer and Redmen both showed flashes of being feature backs, and most seem to think that Dwyer is the guy that would get the longest look at being a long-term feature back, but who knows if the front office think that way.

So what way will the team go to try and make the clubs 26th overall ranking in rushing offense improve? That’s the million dollar question.

“Where we were in the running game last year was indicative of the talent at the position. … That group of players didn’t produce the way we anticipated they would,” GM Kevin Colbert said last week.

If your thinking free agency, here’s the biggest names that could be out there in the market the team could go after:

Felix Jones – DAL
Cedric Benson – GB
Peyton Hillis – KC
Reggie Bush – MIA
Danny Woodhead – NE
Brandon Jacobs – SF
Steven Jackson – STL

I don’t see Jackson going anywhere, but remember another former Rams back and was on the outs in St.Louis that came aboard and could very well be a Hall of Famer (Jerome Bettis).

Felix Jones could be interesting, as could Reggie Bush.

All in all, I think the draft and what’s on the roster with Dwyer will be the answer, but I would love to hear the opinions of what you all think this team should do to get better.

photo credit: adifansnet via photopin cc

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. Newt

    January 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    An offensive line that can run block would help who ever is in the backfield, as well as keeping Ben from taking so many shots.

  2. Jackl58

    January 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Agreed, who is our new O line coach? Lets get a good one, run block effectively and draft a RB in the first 1-4 rounds. Without good run blocking, it doesn’t matter who is in the backfield.

  3. Dave B.

    January 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    While I dont agree with Rashard Mendenhalls skipping the game after he was deactivated , he is still the most talented running back on the Steelers roster . Im not saying , give him the job coming in , he needs to earn it . However , if the team cuts him , do we have a better back on the roster to replace him ? I honestly dont think they do .

  4. Joey T.

    January 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    It’s time to cut ties with Mendenhall. He may be the most talented running back on the roster, but plays with no heart. It’s time to draft a running back and move on.

  5. Eric

    January 21, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    I knew the Steelers should have picked Michael Bush instead of Matt Spaeth.That guy is a beast and would have cost us only a 3rd round pick that by the way is not even on our roster anymore.Not to say that we could have picked someone else with the 1st instead of Mendenhall the following year

  6. Pingback: What Do The Steelers Do To Improve The Run Game In 2013? - Pittsburgh Steelers - NFL - | Pittsburgh Steelers – NFL –

  7. larry

    January 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Did the Mayan calendar have an effect on the steelers offensive line or what? I’ve never seen so many guys go down at one time in all my life. If those guys stay healthy are they capable? Hartings, Faneca, they were ballers, and they were consistent. Pouncey and DeCastro looks like the future but the rest of that group? take a good hard look.You tell me or should i say show the rest of the teams in the nfl.

  8. DrGeorge

    January 23, 2013 at 12:31 am

    Matt, the guys above — God bless them! — are singing the song I’ve been singing all year. To improve the running game, we have to improve the O-line and its execution. Look at the final four teams this year — SF, Atlanta, Baltimore, and New England — where those teams excel offensively versus the Steelers is in the O-line. Any of our backs would look much better behind those O-lines. Too often our RBs were being tackled in the backfield. Injuries did render the O-line ineffective this season, but the O-line wasn’t that good even when everyone was healthy. And our O-line is slow. The O-line’s inability to pass protect for Ben is the flip side of the same coin. Aside from Pouncey, and maybe DeCastro and Gilbert, none of our O-linemen could start for any of the playoff teams. Only Pouncey is Pro Bowl material.

    Therefore, I was appalled to hear Kevin Colbert blame the lack of rushing production on the RBs. He is flat out wrong in his priorities. That puts the cart before the horse. Adrian Peterson couldn’t run behind our O-line this year. (In fact, when Peterson didn’t have good blocking in Minnesota, he didn’t run effectively either. After the Vikings fixed their O-line issues, Peterson became all-world again.)

    As for our running backs, Mendy is not worth his hire; he will be gone. Dwyer seems to be favored by Tomlin because of his speed, but Redman is a more powerful runner and a better blocker and receiver. Both are above average backs and should be retained. However, none of our backs has breakaway speed. Only Jones on the list above truly fits our needs in that respect. With Rainey gone, we will also need a new 3rd down back. But until the O-line gets fixed, it won’t matter who is in the backfield.

  9. buddytoledo

    January 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I think the lack of production for the running game was mostly produced by the coaching staff’s personnel decisions. Some of these decisions were prompted by injuries, but some of them were prompted by irrational punishments for fumbling. All of the running backs showed promise before the fumble benching game, none did afterwards. The lack of faith in any back is apparent in the year’s numbers.

  10. lester

    January 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I agree that what Colbert said is crazy. The oline play was terrible and coaching decisions bad.all these backs would be quality starters behind the ravens,49ers or even the skins.get the oline right.

  11. Ron Kurimsky

    January 26, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    The answer is very simple – 2 things:

    1) Get an offensive line and more importantly an offensive line coach.

    2) Get an offensive coordinator that knows what he’s doing and knows how to call a gmae that keeps the defense guessing – instead of playing right into their hands.

    Summary – Keep the players – get rid of the coaches. It honestly is just that simple. But, Tomlin is bound to screw it up & blame it on RB;s not being able to hold onto the football. For me this is dejevu all over agin. At 68, I’ve seen for too many teams go through this rediculous cycle until they finally hire a capable coach. The Steelers are on the same course. Tomlin & his coaches have done an abismal job of selecting & grooming any players who can replace the cower era stars. And, I don’t expect any Diving Intervention in that regard.

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