When the Pittsburgh Steelers hired Jack Bicknell Jr. to be their new offensive line coach earlier in the off-season, we\'ve had a pretty good idea that we would see more zone blocking in 2013 than in previous years and more outside zone running specifically.
According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Steelers running back Isaac Redman is one of several players on offense that has come forward to say that they welcome the addition of more inside and outside zone to the traditional power running that they have run for several years in Pittsburgh.
"We are going to be dedicated to the zone," Redman told Kaboly. "We are still going to be a power team, but we are going to have this zone scheme in so we can keep the defense on its heels and keep them running."
Running a lot of zone, particularly to the outside, requires that the offensive linemen be able to move and bend and the Steelers starting five now figure to fit that athletic mold in 2013 more so than previous years now that Max Starks and Willie Colon are gone.
The move towards a younger more athletic offensive line started back in the 2010 with the selection of center Maurkice Pouncey in the first round of the draft and since that time the Steelers have added three more starters that were drafted in the second round or better in both the 2011 and 2012 drafts. One of those selections in 2012 was guard David DeCastro and he was asked Thursday by David Todd of ESPN 970 what he thinks about the new blocking scheme.
"I know Coach Bicknell at Kansas City ran a lot of outside zone," said DeCastro. "I can\'t tell you what we\'re going to run. I think whatever we become good at. I just think it helps having that kind of change up to the gap scheme."
Judging by the comments made by both Redman and DeCastro over the course of this past week, I don\'t think that we will see all zone blocking in 2013, only a lot more of it. It sounds like some of the traditional power running plays will be run that will require man blocking. More of the outside and inside zone, however, will help the Steelers offense keep defenses guessing more and especially if they are successful running it.
While this transformation has been in the making for some time now, it is good to see that the use of more zone concepts are being embraced by not only the offensive linemen, but the running backs as well.