More and more in the NFL, teams are using more than one running back to carry the football for them. Some teams use it effectively and to their advantage. There are all sorts of great running back tandems in league today.
Down in Carolina, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are playing great together. Stewart gives the Panthers a power option for short yardage situations, while Williams has the speed to break big runs in the open field.
Then there's "Smash and Dash" in Tennessee, with LenDale White being the "smash" and Chris Johnson being the "dash." They are probably the best example of an effective ground game involving two backs.
And everyone knows about the New York Giants and that "Three-Headed Beast," as many have called it, they have running the football and have cleverly nicknamed "Earth, Wind, and Fire." Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Derrick Ward have really helped New York to their 11-2 record.
But the Steelers have got their own little version of "Earth Wind and Fire" going on in Pittsburgh. The combination of "Fast" Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore, and Gary Russell has proven to work well for the Steelers' offense over the past few weeks.
Willie Parker has always been known to be fast, hence his nickname, and has produced rather well in previous seasons. But this season has been a little less impressive. A great start to the season was lost to an injury and Willie has not been the same since. He was replaced by Rashard Mendenhall who later received a season-ending injury.
But then Mewelde Moore stepped in and did pretty well. Moore is sort of a combination of power and speed, being good, but not great, at both. He is now regularly featured throughout much of the game plan for Pittsburgh and is doing well.
And then there is Gary Russell. A few weeks ago the Steelers had trouble converting in short-yardage situations and tried Gary Russell out for that specifically. He did an exceptional job as a short-yardage back in that game and has done exactly what is expected of him since.
The three players combined have accounted for 1,173 yards rushing on 335 attempts for a 3.5 yard per carry average and 11 touchdowns. If those were the stats for one back, they would be having a pretty solid year.
But the Steelers are getting this production from three different backs. Pretty remarkable numbers for a team that some don't think have a good running game.
And as for the issue of the nickname, I have solved that problem. They could call themselves "Coal, Iron, and Steel", referencing the three materials needed to produce steel, and the what the three diamonds represent in the Steelers logo.
If the Steelers running game continues to play well and get better, it could prove to be a tough force to stop in the playoffs.