Tomlin Says Steelers Running Game Against Bears Only Lacked Attempt Volume


The Pittsburgh Steelers offense certainly hasn’t found their legs so far this season and especially when it comes to their ability to run the football well on a consistent basis in their first three games of the 2017 regular season. Because of that, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked during his Tuesday press conference to pinpoint exactly what is wrong with his team’s offensive running game three games into the season.

“From my perception, nothing,” said Tomlin. “Last week, I think we had acceptable yards per carry, 4.1, or whatever, if you look at Le’Veon’s numbers. Our issue last week was simply volume of runs and I outlined it when I outlined the game. When we muffed that punt, we lost a possession in the first half. We gave them a possession. As you go in at halftime after the blocked kick, you’re down by 10 and you’re playing with 30 minutes. You worry about balance as time becomes a factor and you play catch-up football.

“We simply just didn’t run enough because of circumstances that had nothing to do with the run. We got behind in the football game, you’re going to lose your balance when you do that. They [Chicago] possessed the ball because they were able to run the ball. We lost time of possession because they possessed the ball. None of those things have anything directly to do with the run game. The only issue I feel like we had with our run game in the last game was volume, or lack thereof.”

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell only carried the football 15 times in total against the Bears for 61 yards and a touchdown. However, his 4.1 yard per carry average in that game was his best of the season. Additionally, 7 of Bell’s 15 rushes can be viewed as successful runs and if that’s not enough, he had two other runs during Sunday’s game that totaled 16 yards wiped out by penalties.

The Steelers will play a Baltimore Ravens defense in Week 4 that surrendered 166 yards rushing to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3 in a game that was played in London, England. Additionally, the Ravens lost starting defensive end Brent Urban for an extended amount of time on Sunday due to an injury. If ever there were a game to have a higher volume of rushing attempts by Bell, Sunday’s contest against Baltimore might be it.


Bell, by the way, enters Week 4 with 180 rushing yards on 52 carries.

  • Xi37

    Le’Veon flat-out does not look explosive. I don’t know if he is not in football shape or the injuries have finally caught up with him. He is 2 steps slow right now and hasn’t gotten appreciably better since the start of the season. The Steelers a probably breathing a sigh of relief that he didn’t sign the more than fair offer he was presented with. He will be lucky to make $8m/yr on the open market now. Simply put, he looks far from elite.

  • CP72

    Boy this sure would be a good week for Bell and Bryant to start rounding into form.

    If Bell has 100 yards rushing this week we win.

  • Ralph Wagner

    The Steelers can’t run successfully against the Ravens. Run,run,incomplete pass, punt, Let’s all hope history doesn’t rare it’s ugly head again. Time for Haley and the offense to get their head in the game and make changes when something doesn’t work. DUH…

    Go Steelers

  • CP72

    I said this on Sunday. Bell has never been “fast”, but he’was explosive. I have a legit concern that a couple knee injuries have robbed him of what made him special as a runner.

  • Simon Cutts

    I cannot understand how the team lost that game, as no players had a bad game according to the HC lol

  • francesco

    I want to see Conner in this game.
    But I believe we cannot run against the Ravens no matter who is back there.

  • lone pistol

    I said the whole game i would try Conner. He just seems to run harder with more determination at this point. Plus bells receiving skills seem worse also. Balls bouncing of fingers i believe his routs are getting better then first game.

  • razaard2

    I kinda of agree. Bell was consistently grinding yards. It was not pretty, far from his best, but it wasn’t awful.
    Tomlins excuse IS awful, tho. You’re behind 10 points after the half and you shy away from the ground game? Against a team that can’t score? And on a day Ben couldn’t hit the wide side of a barn unless there was a painted 84 on it? That’s a bad excuse
    Overall bad game, in all three phases. Offense is especially disappointing given all the talent. Hard not to blame coaching.

  • Av232

    I agree with coach. Big mistakes have been affecting the offense. This week it was turnovers instead of penalties (mostly). It’s hard to commit to the run when you’re playing catch up in the down and distance or on the score board.

  • razaard2

    10 points? That’s such a huge difference you can’t rush anymore? It’s not like the bears kept putting points over there…

  • StillersInThe6

    1. Tomlin is out to lunch – don’t give me that game situation BS you had PLENTY of opportunity to establish the run but you chose to pass on first downs and set up 2nd/3rd and longs instead. The guy is acting like they were down 3 scores all game, just stop.

    2. This exclusively shotgun run offense is putrid and needs to be abolished. It limits both direction/cutbacks and vision (RBs lining up behind QB clearly have more time to evaluate blocks). Neither does it help with any momentum into the line. It seriously baffles me that Steelers made ZERO adjustments and didn’t try to run in more traditional sets on Sunday.

    Both equally infuriating to me. You have arguably the NFL’s best RB and you waste him.

  • Steelerfan56

    Yes, lack of “attempt volume” actually means you sucked and couldn’t get first downs.

  • Dan

    Yeah, everything was great…scoreboard musta been wrong.

  • Paul Rainey

    You can’t fix a problem if you do not believe you have one If he believes only volume of carries is the problem then he is dumber than I thought. I guess Mike and Mr. Rooney are O.K. with paying almost $9000 for each yard LB is contributing. In typical Tomlin statements without a clue “4.1 yards or whatever” it is actually 3.156 yards per carry for the year. Three of these carries each series result in a punt, so why would you want to give him more carries.

  • GoSteelerz

    Everyone you said, except Jamal Charles. He’s leading the Broncos in yards per carry so far, with 5.1 ypc. He still has it, and his limited number of carries as the backup is saving him wear and tear which helps him since he is 31 years old now. But yeah, you make a good point. Although Bell is young, he has had some injuries and you wonder when that will take its toll. I hope it’s not already, we’ll see in the upcoming games.

  • StillersInThe6

    Tomlin was clearly asked and spoke about the Bears game, which is where Bell’s 4.1 YPC avg. comes from. Try breathing slowly as you read.

  • Nathanael Dory

    Good point lol

  • Steve Johnson

    Hey Tomlin! Not buying it at all. LeVeon Bell looks bad, no matter how you try and disguise it. Like Tomlin said, there are consequences for missing the entire offseason workouts, Training Camp and the Preseason. We are now seeing those consequences, the running game and O/L aren’t in sync. I’m not going to write them off after three weeks, they are 2-1, but how can anybody be optimistic about this team?

  • Ichabod

    add Ben to that equation

  • Rick McClelland

    Tomlin needs to put down the hooch pipe and tell the Laughing Cow that baby Bell isn’t the cheese everybody thought he was. It’s like getting crazy cheese lady to slice your swiss over at the WalMart deli. Just not going to happen.

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    As much as I can’t stand Bell because of all the distractions, I think his demise has been greatly exaggerated. He looks rusty, but the same line that was considered top 5 in the league last year has been dominated so far. Yes I know Gilbert and Foster were out last game, but there were no holes to run through before that either. Go back and watch the running plays again. A lot of Bell’s yards were after contact, which is good but shows our line has regressed. Definitely a big drop off from last year.

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    Funny part is im seeing almost no blame given to the lack of holes. No bell hasn’t been himself but please look at the plays, line has been absolutely dominated at the point of attack on most running plays this year.

  • #beatthepats

    Tomlin doesnt get it, any novice can see bell is not the same. “Attempt volume”? Letsnot forget his huge drop in the red zone. And watson was 1-8 Like i have said before karma is a bitch ,and the footballs gods will speak.this is a hhge problem with this coach , he will gjve bell 30 carrys totry and get him going rather than giving conner a chance. Remember he lost lagarett blount and our playbook to the pats because of his stuborn approach.

  • MC

    I don’t think being down by 10 at half is enough to reduce the run as much as they did when you have a top 3 RB in the league. Especially when a good run game will help the passing cause, do these coaches and coordinators need football 101 classes?

    We have struggled to run this whole season yet they still come out in 5 wide and shotgun formations. We have one of the best blocking fbs in Nix and he’s hardly out there. When they kept throwing screens in week one it was because the defense was playing safeties deep, well wouldn’t that be a good time to run it as well then?
    I feel like most commenters on this site could call better plays.

  • J.

    Bell will be fine once he gets the ball more. He had 6 carries at the half. The game plan for the Steelers should be getting Bell close to 10 carries by halftime. Get Bell to establish the run game to set up the pass. The Steelers are wanting to use the pass to set up the run because that is how most of the NFL does it these days but most teams do not have a Bell on their roster. Maybe its rust, Maybe it is the injuries (I doubt it) or maybe its not enough touches to get into rhythm (my personal belief).

  • Av232

    Down by down and constantly behind the chains, any play caller will feel pressure to move the ball in chunks

  • razaard2

    Maybe I need to rewatch the game, but I remember constantly screaming “why aren’t they running the ball?!” At the second half. Ben clearly couldn’t pass that day, but they still threw 40 times and ran 15. For roughly the same yards per play (4 at rushes, 5 at passes – the difference needs to be much bigger for passing to be a better option…)

  • Steel Realist PAul

    In my opinion, the volume issue has more to do with the offense not playing very well, getting into multiple third and longs, and punting.

    Not many 10-play drives so far this season.