This post is going to be a close spin off to the Steelers and Rashard Mendenhall needing to run better against the division post I did a few days ago. Tuesday, Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians talked with John Seibel and Joe Starkey about the running game where Arians said in the first 15 seconds of the interview, “We ran the ball well last year from the 20\’s, 20 to 20!” Stop the tape right there. In all of my recent research, I thought something did not sound right so I researched the numbers.
In the first table below, I compiled all 32 teams running back stats from their own 20 to the opponents 21 yard line, as this is truly 20 to 20. I also only counted 1st to 3rd down runs and left out 4th down runs for obvious reasons. As you can see, with a 4.689 yards per carry, the Steelers ranked 13th in the league. The average of all the teams was 4.618, so the Steelers clocked in just above average there.
In the second table I compiled the same stats, but only for the Steelers games against division opponents. In these 6 games the Steelers averaged just 3.718 yards per carry. This is well below the league average as you can see and borderline pitiful compared to the average of 4.689. In the table after that, I took all 16 games and removed the 2 best games and the 2 worst games based on yards per carry. That equated to a yards per carry between the 20\’s of 4.530, which still comes in well below the league average of the first table.
Finally in the last table, I isolated the 10 games outside of the division. These must be the stats that Arians is looking at, as the Steelers averaged a stellar 5.349 yards per carry in those 10 games. So for Bruce to say the Steelers ran well between the 20\’s in 2009, is a bit of a stretch. The games in the division certainly mean the most and the Steelers failed miserably in that stat line.
Now I know you can twist these stats several different ways, but when Arians said ran well between the 20\’s, I automatically thought running backs between the 20\’s on 1st-3rd down. Didn\’t you?