Recently, Marc Sessler went back and watched all of new Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount’s snaps from a year ago for the NFL Network, and wrote about his findings about who he is and how he will fit into the offense.
Blount was traded to the New England Patriots last season as a fringe player battling for a roster spot, but by the end of the season, he’d become the featured back, and completed the year averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
Even still, the Patriots made little to no effort to re-sign him. Mike Tomlin and the Steelers recruited him heavily, and he ultimately agreed to a two-year, $4 million contract to serve as Le’Veon Bell’s backup with the head coach’s word that the Steelers will do with two running backs what most attempt to do with three.
Sessler writes that “Blount is all power. Thunder to Bell’s lightning, the former Buccaneers and Patriots runner gives Pittsburgh a short-yardage pounder with the ability to draw blood”. He also writes that “he’s far from elusive”, which is something that I disagree with.
Despite his size, Blount actually has some quite nimble feet. Athletically, he and Bell are not much far off in terms of speed and agility. Blount would never have been able to excel in his college offense without agility and vision.
Still, Sessler notes that he “relies on strong blocking and struggles when he doesn’t get it”, which could be a fair assessment given the struggles that he has had, particularly earlier in his career, when it comes to short-yardage situations.
The piece explains that the Patriots’ postseason victory showed Blount as “a bruising runner who — in his best moments — found the crease in short-yardage situations and helped wear down a winded defense”, describing him as “an ideal late-game thumper”.
To that end, the author writes that “he isn’t a featured back”; rather, he “is best used on a carry count between the tackles”. Sessler argues that this fits well with the Steelers, who don’t need him to be the back racing to the edge and would rather see him do most of his damage between the tackles, writing that “most of Blount’s big bursts channeled through inside gaps” rather than around the edge.
Naturally, “his playing time in Pittsburgh will rely on mistake-free snaps that move the chains”, referencing his issues with fumbles over the course of his career. He fumbled three times in around 150 snaps for the Patriots a year ago, which was about par for his career average.
Sessler bottom lines Blount’s role in Pittsburgh with the following:
“As a runner expected to spell Bell for six to eight carries per game, Blount will get his chance to score touchdowns and chew up late-game yardage. As we saw in Tampa and New England, he can carry the load out of necessity, which should come in handy if the Steelers are chasing the playoffs and want to rest Bell for January”.
Noting that the Steelers were quicker to Blount than the rival Baltimore Ravens, Sessler emphasizes the impact that a player of his build and résumé will have on the divisional matches within the AFC North, particularly as the weather cools down. Overall, it seems a fairly accurate assessment, generally corroborating my own observations of Blount’s 2013 performance.