I have a new stats program I am playing with an wanted to isolate some running game stats against the teams in the division. I compiled stats all the way back to 2002 of just the running backs and their rushing stats versus the other teams in the AFC North. In the same table I also compiled the stats of the Steelers running back with the most carries in each year against the Ravens, Bengals and Browns as well for comparison. Lastly in the bottom tables I broke down the individual stats of Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall against the division in 2009 and all games outside of the division.
Mendenhall excelled in 2009 against teams outside of the division as he averaged 5.33 yards per carry, but as you can see, the out put of Mendenhall against division foes in 2009, is ranked well at the bottom versus other teams and individual stats of other Steelers running backs. He only beat out the 2003 season of Jerome Bettis just barely in the yards per carry stat. 2003 saw the Steelers go 6-10 overall and 3-3 in the division that year. Now of course this is not all on the running back as the offensive line, blocking and play calling go into these stats are not shown here, but you get a pretty good picture here.
In a minor defense of Mendenhall, he only received more than 17 carries just once in the 5 games he played in within the division. In that one game against Baltimore he carried 24 times for 95 yards. That was the game Dennis Dixon started at quarterback as well. Another stat that is worth noting is that in games he carried the ball 20 or more times in 2009, he averaged almost 5.1 yards per carry. In addition, the 7 road games saw him average 4.9 yards per carry. Where he and the Steelers clearly lacked success was in the AFC North as you can see, as they went 2-4 in those games in the division.
The Steelers must get back to success running in the division with Mendenhall in 2010 if they expect to compete for the AFC North crown and a playoff berth. It is evident why they spent a first round draft pick on Maurkice Pouncey and understaood the urgency of bringing in Flozell Adams at right tackle when Willie Colon was lost for the year. Should the Steelers fail to make the playoffs in 2010, this is stat that once again likely will be able to be pointed at. Let\'s hope we do not have to.
2002-2009 AFC North Running Back Stats Against Division Ranked By YPA
2009 Rashard Mendenhall Stats Outside AFC North
2009 Rashard Mendenhall Stats Against AFC North