If you thought the Pittsburgh Steelers got off to a poor start last year running the football, the start of the 2013 season is even worse. In fact, the Steelers 75 yards rushing after two games is the worst it has ever been in the history of the franchise.
In 2012, the Steelers had 141 yards rushing after the first two games of the season, and that looks good compared to the start of this season.
The Steelers worked all offseason on installing the outside-zone blocking scheme, but I don’t think they have used it more than eight times in their first two games. It’s not hard to speculate that when the running backs have carried the football all of 25 times.
In the season opener against the Tennessee Titans, the lack of a running game could somewhat be blamed on the early loss of center Maurkice Pouncey to a knee injury which resulted in Kelvin Beachum, who was supposed to see a lot of snaps as a second tight end during the game, being moved to center. In addition, the team was without the services of fullback Will Johnson, who dressed but did not play because his hamstring was not 100%.
In the loss Monday night to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers had both Beachum and Johnson at their disposal, but barely used either. After running the ball eight times during the first 15 plays of the game, the Steelers running backs only carried the ball six more times the rest of the way despite the team never trailing more than seven points through the first three quarters.
One designed run Monday night, an end around to Jerricho Cotchery on 2nd and 8, lost five yards. Cotchery’s last run prior to that was in 2011, and it resulted in a three yard gain, and it was his only carry of the year. Let’s hope his carry Monday night was his last for this season.
Until rookie running back Le’Veon Bell is healthy, the Steelers are stuck with what they have and there is no reason to think the running game will improve if they continue doing what they are doing. Abandoning the run early like they did Monday night will only make matters worse as it makes the offense predictable beyond belief.