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Poor Decisions Made by the Pittsburgh Steelers Coaching Staff and Front Office Led to the Dismal 2013 Rushing Attack

September 19th, 2013 at 10:26 PM
By Mark Mihalko

The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their preps for their Week 3 match-up against the Chicago Bears, and saw rookie second round selection Le’Veon Bell get in a little work. While fans should be somewhat excited at the possibility of Bell helping jump-start the putrid running game, it is unlikely that it happens this week.

'Audible to Thomas, Broncos vs Steelers 2012' photo (c) 2012, Craig Hawkins - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
At this point, it does not appear to matter who is carrying the ball for the Steelers, as the offensive line has not provided much push. Yes, some of that can be pinned on the injury to center Maurkice Pouncey on the opening drive Week 1, but not all of it. Honestly, the coaching staff and front office have to have some of the culpability for the struggling line play, as the paper thin unit was not prepared for an injury and the play calling has not been conducive either.

When the Steelers finalized their 53-man roster, they had a back-up center on the roster in John Malecki and quickly released him in favor of Cody Wallace, who has been inactive in both Week 1 and Week 2. While Malecki may not be of the same pedigree of Pouncey, he was with the team both on the practice squad and on the active roster and 2012, and likely would have been a better emergency option than Kelvin Beachum. Do not take anything away from Beachum, what he accomplished was admirable, but the fact remains, he should have never been put into that position.

General Manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin must take some of the heat for that decision. In retrospect, they should consider themselves lucky that the were able to land Fernando Velasco to help replace Pouncey, his experience will become evident when he becomes more familiar with the playbook.

Speaking of the playbook, offensive coordinator Todd Haley also must share some of the blame for the 31st ranked Steelers’ rushing attack (37.5 yards per game). Incredibly, the much talked about zone blocking scheme was shelved after Pouncey’s injury Week 1 and was not used at all in their Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It is somewhat understandable considering the lack of depth along the offensive line, but that is basically six months of preparations gone due to fear of injury.

How bad is it for the Steelers running game? Felix Jones, who has carried the ball 10 times for 37 yards, is the teams leading rusher and he has been here a month and their second leading rusher is LaRod Stephens-Howling (6 carries for 19 yards). After that, Isaac Redman has three more yards (12) than he had during preseason (9) on eight more carries (10). The fact remains, for the Steelers to not have their reserves ready to roll in case of injury is unacceptable for the NFL. Yes, it is one thing to shrink the playbook for a young quarterback, but for the offensive line, they should have been ready to step in.  

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Tags: Cody Wallace, Felix Jones, Fernando Velasco, Football, John Malecki, Kelvin Beachum, Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, Todd Haley

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