The Pittsburgh Steelers: To Run or Not To Run, That Is the Question

Timothy KesslerAnalyst IOctober 20, 2016

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Although it is too early to tell just yet how much of a focus the Steelers will put on improving their running game, Rashard Mendenhall seemingly isn’t fully confident that OC Bruce Arians is taking Art Rooney’s request to heart.


"It's tough to say right now because we're just trying to get back into things and I think our offense will form into shape as we get closer to camp. As a running back, you want the ball in your hands; you want to run the ball. That doesn't seem to be our focus. But whatever we're called to do, however this offense is formed and shaped, we'll be willing to do that."


Reminiscent of a similar request made by Willie Parker a few years back, which fell on deaf ears.


Rashard Mendenhall also made it clear that he would like to be running behind a fullback as the lead blocker this season, as opposed to a tight end.


Like all running backs, he would love to have a fullback slamming into the line to create some holes for him; although, it is well documented that OC Bruce Arians does not prefer to use fullbacks in his offense.


That is what makes the usually soft-spoken Mendenhall and his comments all the more intriguing.


“As a running back you want a fullback,” Mendenhall said. “A fullback is another set of eyes in the backfield; they kind of read and feel through things that receivers and tight ends don't normally do, so as a running back you want that.


“ (Fullbacks) being ball carriers they know what you’re trying to do, they know where you’re trying to go and they can get there before you so a lot of times the fullback will end up at the same place after reading a play.”


Is he openly speaking out against the offensive mentality of his coach, or simply stating his opinion? I think it’s a little of both.


Mendenhall’s statement makes Frank “The Tank” Summers an intriguing player to watch for as well as newly acquired Demetrius Taylor, a 6', 275 lb player out of Virginia Tech who has played fullback in the past.


If either can prove to the coaches that they can block like a fullback, it might persuade Arians to use the fullback more in the offense.


Stranger things have happened, I suppose.


Is this Rashard’s way of reminding Bruce where his focus is supposed to be this season, on an improved running game?


The real question is: why in the world would the Steelers pick up an offensive coordinator who failed in Cleveland with an unbalanced offense that was known for its predictability? He has brought that very same pass heavy offense here, to a city known for its running!


Goes to show you apparently cannot teach an old dog new tricks, if that is what the Steelers brain trust was thinking. But that is the makings of an entirely different article. As it is less about the number of times the ball is run and more about the team's inability to run it well when needed.


In the end, the only thing I see changing Arian's mind on this issue is Art Rooney and the fact that he can very well lose his job if the running game is not successful this season, as he is in his final year of his contract.


Here's hoping we see a return to the smash mouth running that was once a trademark of our team.