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Dec 29, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) stiff arms Buffalo Bills corner back Chris Hogan (15) during the second half of New England

Pittsburgh Steelers Have Great 1-2 Run Punch, Now Need To Use It

The Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday signed the running back they always wanted from free agency, but just didn’t know it.  LeGarrette Blount signed a two- year contract that is rumored to be worth $3.85 million and a $950,000 signing bonus.  The addition of Blount does something much more than just add depth to a running back roster that saw the departures of Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer this offseason along with the remaining uncertainty of LeRod Stephens Howling.  By having Blount in the lineup, the Steelers have a very good 1-2 punch in the running game that could put the Steelers back in the top 10 in rushing and back to the top of the AFC North.  Todd Haley just has to realize that and actually use Blount.

As has been stated in many reports since the public became aware of the Steelers interest in Blount, the big man is a force, moves piles, and has a surprising burst of speed once in the open.  He’s a different flavor to the young LeVeon Bell’s upright and agile style of running.  It’s the kind of running tandem that will slowly chip away at the stamina of a defense and then obliterate it altogether in the closing moments of a fourth quarter.  It harkens back to the days of tough, gritty, and smash mouth football that Steelers fans have become accustomed to over the decades.

The Steelers ranked 27th in the rush last season.  Blount can help change that.  The key is for Todd Haley to utilize this newly acquired 1-2 punch.  The offense has tried and failed in years past to have a featured back followed up by a hard nosed 2nd stringer that added a new level of physical running to the game.  I think it’s safe to assume that new offensive line coach Mike Munchak will vastly improve the run blocking methods of an offensive line that struggled to execute the run zone blocking scheme brought in by Jack Bicknell, Jr.  Todd Haley has the potential to establish a dominating running game.

I just hope he doesn’t let an opportunity slip through his fingers and under utilize the big man like it seem he has with numerous other offensive weapons since Haley’s own arrival back in 2012.  It’s unclear how Blount will fit exactly in an offense that appeared to be ready to transition into more of the no huddle with Ben Roethlisberger.  Then again, with only Antonio Brown as the only solid receiver (and maybe Lance Moore), the offense may have to rely more on the running game by default.  I guess Rooney finally got his wish of taking steps of getting this football team back to being a running one.

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Tags: LeGarrette Blount Pittsburgh Steelers Todd Haley

  • [email protected]

    Couldn’t agree more with this – in his few years with the Steelers, Haley has repeatedly (and inexplicably) NOT utilized things that seem to work in the offense – no huddle being the #1 example. It took remarkable success and a lot of lobbying by Ben, as well as Tomlin’s realization that it worked, before Haley relented and allowed more hurry up.

    Kind of reminds me of Andy Reid’s days here in Philly as HC – despite having arguably the best RB in football, and a solid OL, Reid continued to heave the ball rather than utilizing the run game he had (this was several years ago before it was so widely recognized that McCoy was probably the best RB in the game) – much to the Eagles mediocrity.

    The Rooneys are patient, but even their patience has an end. I think (and hope) that both Haley and Tomlin realize that they are straying dangerously close to that line, and so utilize what they have – especially now that the OL seems to have stabilized, and they have not one but two talented backs.

    Lost in the Steeler fans euphoria of landing Blount is the importance of the OL – like Blount is some magic elixir that means the OL can stay where it is in it’s performance. As a unit they were overall middle of the pack last year (lower as run blockers), but hopefully Munchak schools them up because if they don’t improve with him, we’ve wasted a lot of high draft picks!!

    BTW, Craig, I think you are selling Markus Wheaton short in this article. I firmly believe that about 2 or 3 games in, he will be a solid #2 putting up better #s than Sanders did, and vastly superior to Moore. No knock on Moore, who I think will be a good #3 receiver (or #4 if we get a capable WR, which we should in the draft), but Wheaton has been working with Ben out in Cali and building that all-important chemistry. I just have the feeling that his finger problems are behind him and he’s ready to roll!!
    Good article, let’s hope Haley reads it! LOL!!!

    • Craig

      It does appear that I’m selling Wheaton short – but I’ve been an advocate for him for a long time. That said, he does need to get some work done this offseason, prove himself in camp, and earn that spot. So as of now, there’s only AB we knowingly can rely on. I think that will change, but in the meantime the receiving core needs some help.

  • Carl Eagan

    In a perfect world the running game could keep the opposing offense off the field and the Steeler’s could control the game. However when the Steeler’s defense on the field and Mikey tampering the offense may not always have the luxury of running all the time. Under Ariens when Ben was in the no-huddle the offense moved at will until inside the 20 and then the sidelines took over the play calling resulting in field goals. Under Haley for the first year and a half Ben would move the offense at will and inside the 20 the sidelines took over resulting in field goals When not in the no huddle under both Ariens and Haley the Steeler’s would run twice and then either throw long or a bubble screen and then way more often than not punt.Hmmm Tomlin was on the sidelines for both. Amazingly enough the offensive stats aren’t than much different between the two coordinators the defense is the difference. The only time the offense score at will is when Ben is in the no-huddle the system Tomlin for years has said he doesn’t like to use despite the fact that is the strength of the offense and the quarterback. So if the Steeler’s don’t run and play to the strengths of each back it would be naive to blame Haley and just giving Tomlin another free pass like the one blaming LeBeau for not playing young players.