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Thread: Steelers getting back to more of a running attack in 2010??

  1. #1

    Steelers getting back to more of a running attack in 2010??

    Members of Steelers management including Art Rooney II, along with members of the team and coaching staff have stated they would like to run the ball more in 2010, and it will be interesting to see what the approach to that objective will be.

    Many steelers fans want to see the smashmouth approach, but I feel it takes a bigtime fullback to go along with a bruising runner. Jerome Bettis and Dan Kreider are not making a comeback anytime soon. With that said, I see a couple of staples of the steelers offense that could potentially be a creative approach to getting more out of the ground game going forward.

    Two offensive passing sets with a lot of chain moving and even some red zone success that come to mind during the Big Ben era are Bunch and Snugs....and occasionally Trips if run in shotgun formation. With Ward being THE best blocking receiver in the game and Heath Miller being one of the best blocking tight ends, I could see Bruce Arians the OC calling a lot of "passing" formations like this and running out of them with Mendenhall in a singleback set. Being creative in 2nd and long, or 3rd and medium by running the football out of a passing look should keep defenses guessing and get the most out of the current offensive personnel in the attempt to sustain long drives ( particularly in the 2nd half ).

    Let me know if you guys agree, disagree, or have any other creative ways to get the Steelers rushing attack to be more formidable and more consistent in 2010.
    Just call me Ott.

  2. #2
       
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    I think you're right on the money about the sets they should run, being that they lack a traditional big bruiser fullback. Running out of singleback sets particularly the two you mentioned keeping the wideouts in tight could open up lanes against pass defending packages should Aryans be able to fool the defense. I miss the days of old Steelers football. Even though Ben has a big arm and is great at extending plays with his feet, I'd like to see him not be the first and ultimate option for the offense moving the chains as he has been the past couple years.

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    There was not enough offensive creativity in Pittsburgh the last couple years-they need to adapt. Too many 5 WR sets, too many QB sacks. Get the ball out of the QB's hands some of the time and do something different. Maybe the Steelers should look at the Naval Academy's playbook and run some triple option plays to mix things up. Hines Ward (catching/blocking), Heath Miller (catching/blocking) and Wallace (hands and speed) would fit perfectly into a triple option scheme (especially if you run a gadget situation where the QB lines up to block and the direct snap goes to someone like Randle El or Hines Ward to run the option). The Naval Academy has beaten Notre Dame 2 of the last 3 meetings, and they beat Missouri in a Bowl game this past season. Defenses are not used to a triple option look so if you can run such plays out of a conventional looking formation, the defense can be caught flat footed.

    I would run such option plays @ 20% of the time-not too much to be predictable but enough so the defense has to prepare for it (and possibly be out of position for an audible to a pass play at the line of scrimmage). Dixon would be an intriguing option threat as well-imagine the Steelers lining up with Dixon and Wallace in the backfield-Ben motions to the right and lines up as a TE-direct snap to Dixon-let the fun begin.

    Given the Steelers personnel, I agree that running the ball out of passing formations is probably their best bet to throw off defenses who are prepared for downfield pass plays. They don't have a viable fullback right now, so a 'smash mouth' style is probably not going to work this season. They should also look to use more screen passes and quick out patterns to the RB (West Coast style) to foil the pass rush.

    The result of using the suggested schemes will be fewer third and long (6+) yard plays, since the creative running plays will move the ball more consistently downfield than the aforementioned 5 WR sets. With shorter down and distance, the playbook is much more open and Arians can then use his passing schemes more effectively. When it is 3rd and 8+, the defense is sitting back in a soft zone with safeties over the top because they know you are going to pass. The Steelers were in this scenario too often last year.

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    One small point to make. Pro defenses would eat up a triple option offense if it was run at them more than once a game. It takes too long to develop and there's too much going on in the backfield for a defense not to get there in time. You might be able to pull it off once or twice, but to make 20% of your plays option plays will probably be warranting a death sentence, particularly in your division.

  5. triple option offense is ridiculous! The league is becoming a passing league based on rules. Defenses can't touch receiver's or QB's in the pocket. They need to do a better job of calling plays that keep the defenses on their heels. They seem predictable. They can still pass 55% -60% of the time they just need to be more creative. They need to get the ball out of BR's or BL's hands quickly. I feel like Arians plays take too long to develop. The QB also has to do a better job of taking what is there, too often BR will pass up Miller or a back in the flat to try and get something deep. It seems like early last season when Miller was raking up receptions BR would dump it to Miller often then later in the year he forgot him and keep his eyes down field.

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    I think the triple option type concepts can be adapted for the pros-Miami has had some success with the Wildcat, which is a variation of the option. I think the main point is to be creative about how to run the ball, having someone other than the QB throwing passes some of the time, and using short passes to the RB more often, such as screen passes, etc. Running the ball can be more creative than 'RB runs the ball off tackle', 'RB runs it up the middle'-given the Steelers unsettle O-line situation, creativity will be needed to succeed.

    I agree that the Arians offense has a lot of long-developing pass plays and that Ben seemed to favor the 40 yard pass instead of the 8 yard completions-I think the Steelers offense has become too one-dimensional. A creative overhaul is needed. As I said, such creativity would not need to be there on every play, but enough to shorten down and distance on 2nd and 3rd down, and give the passing game a chance to work. The Steelers QBs need to take what is there in the passing game-but please, no 3 yard passes on 3rd and 5-that is the ugliest play in football.

    Given that the Steelers will be playing with Leftwich as their starter for 4-6 games, I think all Steelers fans would agree that having a slow-throwing QB take 7 step drops in an empty backfield with 5WR all the time is probably not going to be a recipe for success. If the Steelers can't figure out a way to run the ball early and often this season, it will be painful to watch. Let's see if Rooney and Tomlin's talk of emphasizing the run is followed up with action. This year, more than other years, no running game will equal no playoffs for the Steelers.

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    To me the dissappearance of Steeler football starts up front. That is not a great O line. They were average when they last won the Super Bowl, and they've regressed. The loss of Willie Colon is huge. They could turn it around, though. O line functions as a unit, and sometimes the sum equals more than it's part's. They always say running the ball is about attitude, but sucessfully renning the ball is more about timing and cohesion. You only need a little daylight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wordsworth View Post
    One small point to make. Pro defenses would eat up a triple option offense if it was run at them more than once a game. It takes too long to develop and there's too much going on in the backfield for a defense not to get there in time. You might be able to pull it off once or twice, but to make 20% of your plays option plays will probably be warranting a death sentence, particularly in your division.
    Well, the Dolphins and other teams have had success in 'mixing it up' with some Wildcat, which is nothing but a variation of the option offense. The key is to disguise your intentions by lining up in a traditional looking formation, then suddenly having the ball snapped to the RB, who then has the ability to run it himself, flip to another RB (or the QB), or pass downfield-similar to how a QB reads the defense before a play. In the NFL, you can't run any type of play too many times-the Steelers proved that last year by running too many 5WR sets and showing the same passing formations too much. The defenses indeed did eat up the Steelers predictable offense last year, including the mighty defenses of the Browns and Chiefs. How many playoff games did the Steelers play in last season?

    It is way past time to finally get creative on offense-though the O-line is not what it once was, I think some option/Wildcat would help disguise that weakness and move the ball downfield more consistently. Also, the threat of a Wildcat/option play (assuming that your team is having some success with the scheme) may get the defense out of position, which then sets up play-action passing or 'traditional' running plays.

    The Steelers actually have personnel who could run such plays well, if given the opportunity. Maybe 20% is a high number, but my point is well taken-this could be a way for the Steelers running game to finish better than #22 in the NFL.

  9. #9
    Anyone who watched football (closely) recognizes that 2009 marked a stark departure from the prototypical "Steelers football." But this problem was much more complicated than not having a stout offensive line. The defense was depleted for much of the year and Ben was given free rain to air it out. One thing is for sure, not too many games in Ben's 6 years were as offense happy as the Green Bay game at Heinz Field in Week 14.

    Aside from the necessity of an imposing defense, b/c the points will not come as easily as last year, the Steelers have to figure out a way to move the ball with short yardage plays. Multiple approaches have been proposed and the most realistic appears to be running out of single back sets. Additionally, a short passing game is essentially the equivalent of a running game. Teams with underachieving offensive lines use this approach all of the time. Whether its screen passes to the HB, bubble screens to your WR, or short patterns to the TE, Pittsburgh is well equipped to execute this offense. Plus, it doesn't take a pro bowl quarterback to make these throws. It's essentially how teams stay conservative with rookie (inexperienced) QB's. This offensive approach will incorporate Ward & Miller's exceptional blocking abilities outside the hashes and create more space for Mendenhal than will be available between the tackles.
    Last edited by AZCardsFan; 07-12-2010 at 05:29 PM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Wordsworth View Post
    One small point to make. Pro defenses would eat up a triple option offense if it was run at them more than once a game. It takes too long to develop and there's too much going on in the backfield for a defense not to get there in time. You might be able to pull it off once or twice, but to make 20% of your plays option plays will probably be warranting a death sentence, particularly in your division.
    Agreed. A HUGE difference between college and the pros is speed. Not just offensive speed, but mainly defensive speed. Too many rookie running backs show up in the NFL and try to break it to the outside like they did in college only to be greeted by a linebacker who runs a 4.6 forty. Unless the personnel is tailor made for a system like the wildcat (Miami), these types of formations are destined for failure as long term strategies.

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