By Jeremy Hritz
It was great to hear Mike Tomlin talk this week at the owner’s meetings about all things black and gold. Steelers’ fans were finally able to achieve clarity regarding the release of Bruce Arians and the hiring of Todd Haley, both of which Tomlin accepted full responsibility. Tomlin also commented on other intriguing topics such as the potentially volatile relationship between Haley and Ben Roethlisberger, the injury concerns of Emmanuel Sanders and Willie Colon, and the desire of the team to get a “young” quarterback on the roster. However, something that may have been overlooked in Tomlin’s comments was his take on the running back situation. Tomlin said, “I\’m sure we\’re going to get a running back in some form or fashion.” Whether this addition will be made in the draft or free agency has yet to be seen.
Shift your attention for a moment from the Steelers to a franchise coming off of a horrendous season that is now under new coaching leadership. That team would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What does this have to do with the Steelers and Tomlin’s declaration about acquiring a running back? To make the connection, we need to look at comments made this week by new Buccaneers’ head coach, Greg Schiano. Schiano, who left Rutgers to coach the Bucs said this week in reference to bruising Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount, “No one who touches the football [for us] will get touches if they don’t protect the football. That is one of our core covenants — the ball. It’s so important they named the game after it. We make a big deal about it.’’ Schiano went on to express his admiration for Alabama running back Trent Richardson, who the Buccaneers are rumored to be interested in drafting in April. Looking at these statements in tandem, it is clear that Schiano is not sold on Blount and could be interested in moving him in a trade.
And based on Blount’s powerful and brutal running, he may be a player the Steelers should consider attaining by trading a later round pick.
If anybody has questions about Blount’s running ability, just Google his 54-yard, bulldozer touchdown run against the Green Bay Packers in which he makes defenders look like 4th graders. Blount is without question a beast that punishes defenses: a player whose on-field demeanor would be aligned with the Steelers’ tradition at the running back position. Blount could provide instant depth, and combined with Isaac Redman, would make defenses cringe knowing who they would have to tackle all game long. And if I am not mistaken, the Steelers made a trade for a running back from the Rams back in the day that ended up being pretty good.
I promise not to leave out the negative…
It is no secret that Blount has a spotty collegiate record, not just for punching a Boise State player in the face who was taunting him, but also by demonstrating a less-than-desirable work ethic for a period of time at Oregon, which by all accounts eventually improved. The other knock on Blount is surrounding his fumbling issues which plagued the Buccaneers last year and led to a few close losses, yet this is something that can be improved.
While it is a long shot that the Steelers will obtain Blount, an exclusive rights free agent who has yet to sign his tender with the Buccaneers, his fierce running style personifies Pittsburgh Steelers football. His nasty streak may be just what is needed in what has been a lackluster backfield over the last few years.