During the 2013 NFL Combine, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio if he was disappointed with the teams running game in 2012 and if it would be an area of priority for him during the offseason. Now, with two preseason games left to be played before the start of the regular season, I thought it would be a good time to revisit his answer.
“It is and we were disappointed,” said Colbert back in February. “And I stated in no deference to the guys that played there, but we weren\’t good enough at that position, and that falls on me. We had a lot of guys that tried to take the reigns and be the guy, but quite honestly they didn\’t do it. Again, you felt good about the position going into the season, coming out we didn\’t feel so good and that goes on me.
“We\’re going to try to upgrade and add to the running back position, because I\’m pretty sure that if you get a good runner that the offensive linemen are going to look a little bit better, and hopefully we\’re going to run the ball better.”
Colbert, as promised, did try to upgrade the running back position, as not only did he draft Michigan State running back Le\’Veon Bell in the second-round of the 2013 NFL Draft; he also signed free agent running back LaRod Stephens-Howling during it.
Dispute his attempt to upgrade, however, Colbert has now pretty much found himself right back where he started heading into the 2013 season as Bell will be sidelined several weeks with a mid-foot injury suffered Monday night in the second preseason game against the Washington Redskins. To make matters worse, Stephens-Howling is currently trying to overcome a sprained MCL that forced him to sit out the game against the Redskins.
Colbert\’s decision on Friday to trade linebacker Adrian Robinson to the Philadelphia Eagles for running back Felix Jones probably shouldn\’t come as a surprise when you closely examine what he had to say about the running game back in February. He knows that it would be foolish to expect different results this year if he was to rely on both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer to carry the load for a second season in a row.
Assuming Stephens-Howling\’s knee injury isn\’t long-term, Colbert needs to go ahead and cut loose either Redman or Dwyer prior to the start of the season as there is no use having two running backs earning $1.323 million on the roster if he firmly believes both are only bit contributors. In addition, he should continue to monitor the waiver wire between now and the start of the regular season for yet another running back that he would consider an upgrade over what he currently has.
Should Colbert stand pat right now with what he has at running back and expect different results until Bell returns to action, a resulting unsuccessful running game will once again fall back on him. He must continue to try to upgrade the position.