Ben Roethlisberger Doesn\’t Think The Steelers Need A Fullback

One of the biggest criticisms that former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians received from the fan base during his time in Pittsburgh was that he didn\’t use a true fullback and instead opted to use h-back David Johnson at times in a fullback type role as well as two and three tight end sets.

Now that Todd Haley has arrived as the new offensive coordinator we still do not have any clarity whether or not he will use a traditional fullback in his offense, but if it were up to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he won\’t.

Roethlisberger recently sat down with Bob Pompeani from KDKA for a one-on-one interview and he was asked to give his thoughts about the Steelers needing to use a fullback, to which Roethlisberger replied, “I don\’t know if you need a fullback if you\’ve got a tailback that can pound the ball. I think last year we only missed one 4th and 1, and 3rd and short, and 4th and short we got almost every single one of them. That\’s because we had a big pounding back and I think if you have that you don\’t need a fullback.”

Now Roethlisberger has commented quite a bit on what he hopes Haley does and doesn\’t do with the offense since he was introduced as the new offensive coordinator. In all likelihood I think it is going in one ear and out the other of Haley though. That being said I have been on the same side of the fence as Roethlisberger is when it comes to a fullback. That angers many I know, but I would much rather have a second pass catching tight end on the field instead, especially if he can serve as an h-back in certain formations. Sorry folks, the Dan Kreider days are over.

As we sit here in early April the Steelers have yet to add a true fullback to the roster, but they have added another h-back in the form of Will Johnson, who certainly shows some promise on tape. They also tendered Johnson, who is a restricted free agent, as well and it looks certain that he will be fighting for a spot on the 53 man roster this year. The Steelers are unlikely to spend a draft pick on a true fullback, so it seems that Roethlisberger will get his wish in 2012. I for one am fine with that.

The fullback position was not the only thing that Roethlisberger discussed with Pompeani, but it is one of the things that stuck out to me in the interview. You can read more here.

  • Eric87

    Always thought they should have Redman lined up at FB and have Mendy deeper. But with Mendy injured that is not gonna happen. Dwyer and Redman in the same backfield would be interestring. I gave heard that Haley will run the wishbone with Dwyer, Redman, and Batch all back there, that could be fun to watch. I have no problems with getting all of these guys on the field.

  • Grw1960

    Sounds like Ben is a true Arians convert. Full backs only are needed in short yardage situations in Arians ball.

  • One of the reasons that NFL teams no longer use a true FB, is because they are becoming harder and harder to find, coming out of college. Most of the top college programs have moved to the spread offense, which doesn’t rely on a FB.

    It’s not just the NFL that has transitioned to the H-back. College programs have also moved to the H-back. Versatility is the name of the game, and H-backs provide much more versatility, compared to a FB. When you have a player who can play in pass protection, run block, block in line, and catch, he is much more valuable to the offense.

    In the situations where a team may want to deploy a FB, more and more teams are having success coaching up other players to come in and run block. We saw this with the Steelers during the 2010 season, when Doug Legursky lined up in the back field, in goal line situations. Then there are teams like the 49’ers, who took an UFA DE in Bruce Miller, and coached him up to take on FB duties.

  • Derick

    Seattle has that PSU QB that transitioned to FB and is a Pro Bowler I believe. That is pretty cool imo. Lynch did have a solid season.

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    Ben is a quarterback! What do you think Mendenhall would have said though?

  • Daveb1952

    Sorry, I’m going to disagree with having a tight end as an offensive threat being more advantageous. Can you say Tom Rathman? How in the world can you even begin to compare how we’ve been using our “Blocking back” to that?

    When you send that second back out in the flat the defense has to cover it, presumably the same defenders we’ve struggled to keep from blowing up our plays between the tackles. Sometimes pulling defenders away

  • Daveb1952

    Wasn’t there a team a few years ago that had a wishbone set. It worked pretty well for about two weeks. Then the opposing defenses realized they were serious, and designed a way to stop it. By the end of the season, they no longer ran it as it was neutered, and that was the end of that. It’s a gimmick at best, and relatively easy to defend. In today’s economy, I’d rather have that 3rd back out running routes….

  • OC’s can do the same thing with a TE. The Patriots put Aaron Hernandez in the back field on a regular basis, during the second half of the season, where he was a threat in the passing game, but also in the run game.

  • 1) Of course he doesn’t want a FB, he wants to pass as much as possible, that’s why he loved BA
    2) LOL at converting nearly every 3rd or 4th and short.Their red zone woes alone put the lie to that statement.

  • Cols714

    Of course they don’t need a FB. They won the 2008 Super Bowl and nearly won the 2010 Super Bowl without a FB.

    There is no need for a FB on this team. The strength is the QB and the WRs.

  • Daveb1952

    It’s not so much what the position is called ( although I don’t recall Hernandez leading a runner up the A gap), it’s what they do. Using Hernandez as an example, in the backfield, is he a legitimate running threat? No? Is he a lead blocker? Unless they are running off tackle, no. These are things that you get out of a true sterotypical fullback that that a defense must prepare for.

    In the Arians O, this blocking back would lead block, but was used very little for anything else. IMO, using a shorter, quicker player to the hole is a better option for leverage purposes. By using this player pretty much as a battering ram, inside the tackle box, allows for the defense to keep one extra player in the box, therefore making it that much harder. Habitually lining him two yards behing the gap where were planning to run the ball through, wasn’t exactly a brilliant stroke of genius either…..

  • Some of the comments here are very entertaining.

    Football has evolved people. You wanna know why there were so many red zone issues? Because Arians was handcuffed into running the damn ball too much because he has to appease the yinzers who haven’t evolved from “Cahr Pahr” football to today’s passing NFL. The rules have changed. If you’re not taking advantage of those changes then you’re playing for draft picks instead of titles.

    This is a PASS FIRST league. Having a franchise QB with Ben’s abilities to throw, buy time, run, etc, hand off to someone and stand around watching is foolish AT BEST.

    I’m glad the Steelers don’t have a true FB and I hope Haley continues to stay away from that. What’s needed is a base offense of 3 wr, 1 te & 1 rb. From there they can move to a 2 te offense in the RZ *if they feel the need to* but in today’s NFL we’ve got to have the ball in Ben’s hands…especially in the RZ.

    One thing I do hope Haley stays away from is 5-7 step drops with an empty backfield. That’s the formation that gets Ben killed.

  • No.

    Was he handcuffed to running when he started completely ignoring calls to his best red zone threats (Miller, Ward and Cotchery) on the passes he DID call? They are all far better in the red zone than Wallace, Brown or Sanders, but they accounted for 2 TDs each, because they weren’t in that often. Their percentage of passing plays has evolved with Ben and BA, and you really can’t argue that he was handcuffed to the run.

    You can maybe argue that his run-run-pass and pass-pass-run staples were handcuffing, but even then, he still called the same 6 or so plays every time and ever team knew it.

    A true FB would be nice, but it isn’t needed for the redzone. Decent play calling, combined with better formations (2 TE, or using more of your possession guys and less of your speed burners would be a great start).

  • Tim

    I am not sure if this was a useful comment by Tim or not as I never made past the “child like” name calling. Perhaps you would like to try again Tim? – Dave