Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rebuild or Reload: Steelers' Run Game Is Key Factor, part 2

UPDATED: 3/29/2013

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana - "Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1"

In part one of this two-part series, we covered the need for a No. 1-caliber running back. Is Jonathan Dwyer that running back? Will they draft one? - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2013/02/rebuild-or-reload-steelers-run-game-is.html
(Update: both Dwyer and Redman were tendered, Redman has yet to sign.)

Probably a more important question is will a better running back and running game in general affect the quarterback? Of course it can. And has.

The constant rotation of running backs and offensive linemen affected the play, regardless of injury, of Ben Roethlisberger. One area in which this was made evident was in the decline of Big Ben's splash plays and the ability to complete the deep ball. This coincided with the decline of the wide receivers' overall performance (and their occasional lack of effort).



Big Ben's passing statistics when looking to go deep, declined as the rushing averages dropped. His numbers in 2012 for passes 21 yards and longer were 8-37 (21.6%) for 317 yards.

These numbers were less prodigious than those in 2011 where we find that his numbers, given the same parameters, were 16-55 (29.1%) for 530 yards.

Compare that now to the numbers in the running game in the same time frame. The Steelers' average per carry dropped from 4.4 yards in 2011 to 3.7 in 2012 (per Trib Total Media's Alan Robinson, the fourth-lowest average since the NFL merger) and they also fell from No. 14 in rushing in 2011 to 26th last season.

In fact, as Dutch Wydo of "Steelers Pre & Postgame with Neal Coolong (and Lance Williams)" researched and detailed, since Big Ben's arrival in 2004, the Steelers winning percentage greatly increases the better the run production is:

"All Steelers games since 2004 where Roethlisberger was the Quarterback.

Yards per rush total and final game result. Summary of stats are at the bottom.

2004 2005 2006 2007

5.1 win 5.0 win 1.9 loss 5.5 win
5.1 win 4.2 win 4.5 loss 6.2 win
5.2 win 3.4 lost 3.8 loss 6.2 win
4.3 win 3.3 won 5.2 win 3.0 win
4.5 win 4.8 won 3.2 loss 4.0 win
4.5 win 3.6 won 5.1 loss 4.6 loss
3.8 win 3.6 lost 8.3 loss 4.8 win
3.5 win 3.4 lost 3.9 win 2.3 win
2.8 win 4.1 win 1.9 loss 4.5 win
4.8 win 4.7 win 2.5 win 3.4 loss
3.9 win 6.0 win 5.8 win 2.9 win
4.1 win 4.5 win 3.7 win 2.9 win
4.4 win 4.2 win 3.5 loss 5.7 loss
4.5 win 2.7 win 4.6 win 4.5 win
5.5 win 1.7 loss

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

4.7 win 1.6 win 3.5 win 4.1 loss 2.9 loss
3.8 win 4.8 loss 2.1 win 3.5 win 2.4 win
1.7 loss 3.6 loss 5.1 win 2.4 win 2.7 loss
2.5 win 4.9 win 3.8 win 5.4 loss 4.4 win
5.0 win 3.9 win 4.8 loss 6.2 win 2.5 loss
4.6 win 3.9 win 4.9 win 5.8 win 5.8 win
4.3 loss 5.3 win 4.6 win 3.3 win 5.2 win
2.1 loss 6.0 win 2.3 win 4.3 win 4.5 win
4.4 win 3.6 loss 4.6 win 3.5 loss 3.3 win
3.3 win 3.7 loss 5.9 loss 3.5 win 4.1 loss
4.7 win 4.9 loss 3.3 win 3.5 win 4.1 loss
2.7 win 3.4 loss 3.3 win 4.1 win 3.1 loss
3.4 win 3.4 win 2.3 win 4.4 loss 3.3 win
3.0 loss 2.1 win 3.9 win 4.5 win
3.9 win 5.6 win 5.5 loss 6.8 loss
1.9 win
2.2 win

Roethlisberger is 40-12 when the Steelers rush for 4.5 or more yards per rush in a game.
That 77% win percentage would equate to 12.5 regular season wins on average.


The Pittsburgh Steelers would be tough to beat if Mike Tomlin’s team could add a running game to its arsenal."

It must be understood that there is no quick fix to the current state of affairs. We have to acknowledge, though, that returning to winning ways involves a healthy dose of skill at the running back position.

As Steelers offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, jr. said, he wants his lineman "to be athletic enough" to be able to keep up "with those great athletes on defense," which also involves a healthy dose of skill.

Bring the two together, allow them to aid in protecting your quarterback and in keeping your defense off of the field longer, throw in a higher percentage of splash plays...and quite a bit of luck, and you have the makings of a team looking to reload. And since that perfect storm isn't likely to happen, look for the Steelers to be in rebuild mode next season.