Steelers Will Still Primarily Be A Power Running Team In 2013

If you are like me, you are probable excited about seeing more of the outside zone being utilized by the Pittsburgh Steelers offense in 2013. However, just because we will see more of it, doesn\’t mean we won\’t still see some of the traditional inside zone, and power based blocking that we have been accustomed to over the years.

Steelers left guard Ramon Foster told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette how adding more outside zone will help the running game this upcoming season.

“With this outside zone, it keeps them on their toes, keeps them honest, and it opens up to what we can do best,” said Foster. “We\’re still a power team, it\’s just the outside zone caters to what we do most.”

When Jack Bicknell Jr. was hired to replace Sean Kugler as the Steelers offensive line coach, he talked about how he wants linemen that can run and bend. Now that Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams and David DeCastro are all back fully healthy, we should see the youngest starting five in the league be on the move quite a bit.

Now, being on the move doesn\’t necessarily mean always running the outside zone as DeCastro was one of the top pulling guards coming out of college. And, while Foster is certainly not as mobile as his guard counterpart, he supposedly has dropped a few pounds in an effort to improve in that area.

We\’ve talked about the outside and its concepts the entire offseason, but if you need a refresher on the basics of it, Bicknell summed it up for Bouchette.

“It\’s basically, exactly what it says. [Blockers] are going to go to an area, primarily, said Bicknell. “The philosophy behind the play is that the running back can hit it in a lot of different areas, depending on what the blocking scheme is.”

Whether or not Le\’Veon Bell will be that running back at the start of the season is yet to be determined, but at some point during his rookie year he will be. Many have criticized the selection of the Michigan State product for his lack of elite speed, but Bicknell told Bouchette that all a running back needs to do is be fast enough to threaten the outside so that defenses must respect it. He thinks Bell is more than adequate enough to do just that.

Fellow running back Isaac Redman dropped some weight and worked with a speed trainer this offseason in hopes that he too can at least threaten the outside. Judging by the early reports in training camp, he can.

Bicknell goes on to talk about how cut blocks along with solid reads and vision by the running backs will also play into the success of the outside zone, and how it is essentially a downhill play when executed correctly.

So how many times can we expect to see the outside zone run in a game? Being as the Steelers running backs combined to average 23 carries a game in 2012, I would look for an average of 5-7 runs a game to be outside zone plays in 2013. Of course if defenses can\’t stop it in a particular game, the offsense should run it until they prove that they can.

The rest of the power running plays that we have been accustomed to seeing over the years – Counter 34 Pike, 22 Double and 14 Straight – will be mixed in to add the unpredictable factor to the ground game, so don\’t go thinking you\’ve seen the last of them. When that Counter Pike is executed successfully, it usually results in big gains.

If this young offensive line can just stay relatively healthy for a full season for once, the Steelers running game can\’t help but be better than it was in 2012 and what a welcomed sight that would be.

  • steeltown

    I love Redman but he has never been known to “threaten the outside” he is a straight ahead power runner.. Le’veon and Stephens-Howling should excel at the outside zone though

  • JC

    I’m optimistic about the running game this year. As Kevin Colbert said after last season, you can’t do the same thing and expect better results. They had the 26th ranked rushing offense last year so hopefully this new combination of the outside zone and traditional inside zone will equate to better results.

  • dgh57

    We’ll see with Redman. He worked with a speed coach during the off season, lost some weight, and reportedly added burst to his game all things needed for the ZBS.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Redman is more of a pounder always has been and that’s not gonna change. May have shown decent spend a few times. With the dropped weight I don’t think he automatically becomes the guy the defenses fear. I’d give the edge to all the guys you named and i’ll throw in Dwyer also because i’ve seen him show some break away ability before at GT and with a couple of long runs in the NFL.

  • steeltown

    He may be quicker with a few less Lbs but wont automatically change his speed, not at his age, Dwyer on the other hand who was already quite faster than Redman might have success

  • Pete

    And a healthy O line. You can’t do much if you’re getting blown up in the back field as we saw many times last season or the holes close too quickly because your top linemen are watching from the sidelines. I just can’t wait to see the running game with a healthy O line. I think we’ll see something much better than last year if they are healthy. [Crossing my fingers and toes]

  • cencalsteeler

    Which should make for a nice combination. Now saying that, if I was an opposing team, if Redmans in you would stack the middle. If Bell and LSH are in, you might expect outside the tackles. If you have Dwyer, it’s more unpredictable. Advantage Dwyer?

  • dgh57

    I think you’re underestimating what a speed coach can do for a athlete. They don’t exist because they don’t help increase a athletes speed! The hiring of this coach and the fact he works hard to get better at his craft tells me Redman is serious about becoming a more all around RB. So until proven wrong, I choose to think he has benefited from all his hard work. Oh, and Redman wont be 29 till November so it isn’t like age is catching up with him already!

    In the end it’s all about who gets the job done on the outside whether it be Redman, Dwyer or Bell(of which I favor Bell).

  • steeltown

    I think Le’veon also has that skillset, he should be able to break to the outside or attack the middle

  • steeltown

    Im not arguing that he wont be quicker or atleast have better short area quickness but RBs are what they are, he’s a power guy.. with nice hands I might add

  • dgh57

    I’m not arguing about him being a power back because he is. He had to be a power back running behind a Power Scheme. I’m saying he will adapt his game just like Arian Foster had to do with the Texans. As with most RBs who go undrafted it’s usually because of having to do with speed. Foster seems to do pretty good in the ZBS whether it be in or outside with the speed he has!

    I’m just trying to give Redman the benefit of the doubt.

  • Stephen Dale

    Seeing is believing.