Pittsburgh Steelers Run Game Philosophy: Run Effectively, Not Constantly
When Todd Haley took over as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator, the prevailing opinion was that he'd return the team to their run-first, smashmouth roots. However, this is shortsighted.
The NFL has become a pass-heavy league, and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. The Steelers offense has adapted in kind, with a three-pronged receiver attack being their signature rather than the bruising running game of years past.
While it is true that the Steelers absolutely need to run the ball better—and more often, in certain situations—Haley's interest in the run game is more about increasing its efficiency and effectiveness and regaining a sense of overall offensive balance.
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
However, in 2011, at least on the surface, it doesn't appear that the Steelers running attack lost much efficiency. They averaged 4.5 yards per rush, good for the ninth-best figure in the league, and averaged 121.1 rushing yards per game, ranking them 13th overall.
Kaboly delves deeper and finds the real problem: In third downs, in short-yardage and in four-minute offensive situations, the Steelers under coordinator Bruce Arians almost entirely abandoned the run. He says:
"The Steelers faced 3rd-and-2 or less 35 times last season. They ran 19 times (converting 68 percent) and passed 16 times (converting 50 percent).
"When the situation was 3rd-and-3, the Steelers threw all 19 times (converting 58 percent)."
"The Steelers ran 29 percent of the time on first down last season, down nearly 12 percent from the year before, and ran 42 percent of the time overall (down 15 percent from 2007, Tomlin’s first season)."
Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
If you're passing nearly all of the time on first downs, you are both predictable and unbalanced. If, in every single instance of being in a 3rd-and-3 situation, you pass the ball, again: more predictability, less balance.
So yes, in one sense, the Steelers will be running the ball more under Haley. However, they'll be running the ball more in situations in which they should have been running the ball already.
It's not that we'll be seeing three-run plays in a row on a constant basis, and it's not that the run game will be the cornerstone of the Steelers offense—it will be that the Steelers properly and effectively use the run instead of believing that passing is always the best option.
As Haley himself said (per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), "We want to be able to run the ball when we have to throw it and throw it when we have to throw it." That's certainly a departure from the Arians-led Steelers offense, but it's not an indication that Ben Roethlisberger's arm is going to take a back seat to Isaac Redman and company.
It's a pass-heavy league, to be sure, but a better approach is to be balanced. There's no point in being highly dangerous in the passing game if the offense cannot run the ball when it needs to. That was a major problem for Pittsburgh last year and one that Haley is actively working to rectify.
But if you're thinking that Haley's offense will be a return to the anomalous, run-heavy Steelers offense of the 1970s, that's simply not the case. This is, after all, about evolution and not regression.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?