One Area Of Steelers’ Run Game Still Struggling

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ running game has gotten back on track, especially when you compare to where it was at during the beginning of the year. But all is not perfect. In 11 personnel, three receiver sets, the most common grouping the Steelers use, they’re one of the league’s worst teams in running the football.

That stat comes courtesy of ESPN’s NFL Matchup, whose Twitter account is constantly rolling out good tidbits of info. This one though wasn’t kind to Pittsburgh.

As the graphic shows, the Steelers have the league’s third-worst rushing offense out of 11 personnel, averaging 3.7 YPC. Only the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals are worse.

Out of any grouping, the Steelers are averaging 3.8 YPC, 23rd in the NFL. They’ve been effective pounding the rock out of tighter personnel groupings, Roosevelt Nix was a key cog in Sunday’s win, but have consistently struggled when spreading the ball out.

And even as the run game has gotten better as a whole, the 11 personnel numbers have stayed stagnant. Dave Bryan did the math after three weeks and found the Steelers were averaging 3.85 yards per carry out of 11 personnel, meaning the number has somehow gone down even as Le’Veon Bell has hit his groove.

Running the ball with power is all well and good. But with the Steelers being in three receiver sets the majority of the time, they’re going to have to prove they’re effective running it there, too, if they want to expect consistent success on the ground.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • David Shoff

    Alex, how can you explain this?

  • Alex Kozora

    Honestly, I can’t. Don’t have a great reason for it.

  • derp_diggler

    Doesn’t this mean that Nix is not on the field? If so then that could explain why Leveon is not as effective without his lead blocker,

  • David Shoff

    Maybe it’s because the Steelers line blocks well, but doesn’t push the pile, as we’ve seen on 3rd and 1. But when you add the big time blocker flying through in nix, it works better. I don’t know.

    David Shoff

  • nutty32

    Do they run more zone blocking out of 11 v. other sets? Just a guess, but Steelers seem to excel in power much more so than zone. Those other teams might have also broken off 1 or 3 huge runs out of 11 that skews all the numbers. Maybe just luck that Bell hasn’t hit 1 or 3 huge runs out of that set.

  • I4giveSteelers

    damn I have missed smash mouth football, Rosie Nix or Watson are my favorite Steeler’s

  • thomas hmmmm

    My guess would be that is from the second half of games where the game plan is pound the rock and the opposing team knows they are running running throw.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Here’s another area-rushing TDs. As in, we only have 4. A big part of the RZ problem. Can we get some stats on RZ run/pass %, and yards per play? Just a hunch, but I think our run game suffers when the field shrinks also.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Yes, I believe so. Everybody is quick to pat the o-line on the back but they are not people moving road graders. They rely on a lot of pulling,trapping and other mobility and trickery. Bell is getting an awful lot of the yardage on his own.

  • Dan

    In checking the yards per carry (overall, not any particular grouping), we were: 2.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.1, 3.5, 5.2 and 3.5 over the last seven weeks. The average for the season is 3.8. Respectable but not special. I don’t see any real strong trend yet, other than we’re doing better than in the first two weeks. Unfortunately, our opponents are averaging 4.8 yards per carry so far this year.

  • Steve

    3.7 YPC isl not bad, it is a 1st down every third play. Keep pounding the ball down their throats. Cincy was demoralized with us running the ball and they had no answer to stop The Steelers.

  • falconsaftey43

    This year inside the 10.
    18 runs, 1.78 ypc, 7 1st down/TDs.
    19 pass, 1.84 y/a, 5 1st down/TDs.

    On the season, Bell has 7 1st downs/TDs on 18 attempts for 39%. That’s 9/27 of RBs with 5+ attempts.
    Going back to 2015-2017. Bell is 17/39 inside the 10 for 44%. That’s 7th of 52 with 15+ attempts.

    Inside the 5.
    This year Bell is 4 for 6. That’s 1st/30 of players with at least 3 carries.
    2015-2017 Bell is 11 for 16. That’s 3rd/44 of players with at least 10 carries.

    Steelers have been very successful when running close to the goal line overall.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Then that speaks to us just not running the ball often enough down there. Just thinking about the 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 that we failed on Sunday would’ve made me think otherwise. Because you’re getting into that goal line O mentality in those short yardage situations.