Steelers Run Game Improved Late Last Year When TE Matt Spaeth Returned

Thanks to a Lisfranc injury suffered during training camp last year, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth spent most of the 2013 season on the injured reserve list as the designated to return player. However, while he was only able to play in the final four games of the season, Spaeth’s presence certainly helped the running game in those contests.

In the final four games of the 2013 season, the Steelers offense rushed for 4.08 yards per carry on the 78 running plays that Spaeth was on the field for as opposed to 3.54 yards per carry on all other runs without him during the season. Sure, 78 plays is really a small sample size, but a half a yard difference is a half yard difference nonetheless.

I have listed the 20 different lineup combinations used on the 78 plays and as you can see, 52 of them consisted of 12 personnel, which includes one running back and two tight ends.

During those final four games, Spaeth averaged 33 snaps a game worth of playing time. Will he average those kind of snaps in 2014? Probably, not, but an average of 25 snaps a game is not out of the question. That kind of average would result in him playing 400 snaps, which sounds about right.

The Steelers need to improve their running game in 2014 and should as long as their offensive line can stay healthy. Spaeth will definitely see his share of snaps in 12 and 22 personnel groupings in 2014 and now that he’s fully healthy, he should be able to pick up where he left off last season. Make no mistake, the Steelers offense missed Spaeth’s presence last season.

LineupPLAYSAVGPERS
Roethlisberger, Bell, Brown, Sanders, Miller, Spaeth, Gilbert, Beachum, DeCastro, Foster, Wallace233.8712
Roethlisberger, Bell, Wheaton, Brown, Spaeth, Miller, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace116.3612
Roethlisberger, Bell, Brown, Sanders, Spaeth, Miller, Adams, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace64.8312
Roethlisberger, Bell, Johnson, Brown, Spaeth, Miller, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace61.1722
Roethlisberger, Jones, Brown, Sanders, Miller, Spaeth, Gilbert, Beachum, DeCastro, Foster, Wallace54.412
Roethlisberger, Bell, Johnson, Cotchery, Miller, Spaeth, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace43.2522
Roethlisberger, Dwyer, Johnson, Cotchery, Miller, Spaeth, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace42.7522
Roethlisberger, Bell, Brown, Spaeth, Miller, Adams, Gilbert, Beachum, DeCastro, Foster, Wallace33.6713
Roethlisberger, Dwyer, Brown, Sanders, Miller, Spaeth, Gilbert, Beachum, DeCastro, Foster, Wallace27.512
Roethlisberger, Bell, Johnson, Brown, Spaeth, Miller, Adams, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace2622
Roethlisberger, Bell, Sanders, Cotchery, Miller, Spaeth, Adams, Gilbert, DeCastro, Foster, Wallace2312
Roethlisberger, Bell, Johnson, Palmer, Miller, Spaeth, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace20.523
Roethlisberger, Dwyer, Wheaton, Brown, Spaeth, Miller, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace1712
Roethlisberger, Dwyer, Johnson, Brown, Spaeth, Miller, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace1622
Roethlisberger, Dwyer, Johnson, Cotchery, Miller, Spaeth, Adams, Gilbert, DeCastro, Foster, Wallace1622
Roethlisberger, Bell, Moye, Brown, Spaeth, Miller, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace1512
Roethlisberger, Bell, Brown, Cotchery, Miller, Spaeth, Gilbert, Beachum, DeCastro, Foster, Wallace1412
Roethlisberger, Dwyer, Johnson, Moye, Miller, Spaeth, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace1222
Roethlisberger, Bell, Johnson, Wheaton, Miller, Spaeth, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace1222
Roethlisberger, Jones, Johnson, Brown, Spaeth, Miller, Beachum, Gilbert, Foster, DeCastro, Wallace1022

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • dgh57

    I’m exited about the run game this season with the addition of Blount, Munchak, and Miller and Spaeth on the edge! Add in the new ZBS and the no-huddle and this season can’t start to soon for me!

  • steeltown

    Spaeth receives a lot of grief, but he is a solid TE, especially in the blocking department. There was a noticeable improvement to the offense when Miller returned and again, when Spaeth returned.

  • Alex Kozora

    What’s more surprising here is that out of the 300+ attempts, the max plays with one unit was just 23, about 7%. Understandable with the injuries but still really disappointing. So inconsistent.