The Pittsburgh Steelers are a surprising 1-2 going into their early Week 4 bye. Along with an unproductive defense, Pittsburgh has suffered from an inconsistent running game as well.
Thus far, the Steelers are ranked 30th in the NFL in total rushing yards (195) and rushing yards per game (65.0).
These low numbers can be accredited to Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s decision to pass more than run during the first three weeks of the season. The Steelers’ offense has attempted 120 passes and has only run the ball 74 times.
Fans can blame Haley for being the reason why the running game has been so inconsistent, however I don’t think he’s totally wrong for doing so. A couple of days ago, I said that Haley was to blame for Pittsburgh’s lackluster ground attack, but after looking at the Steelers’ ranking in passing, a part of me can’t blame him.
Pittsburgh’s is ranked sixth in the league in both passing yards per game (284.3) and total passing yards per game (853).
Haley’s decision of going with a pass-heavy offensive attack was mainly due to the effectiveness of the passing game. It could come across as if he doesn’t have faith in the running game, but the truth is that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has just been throwing the ball fairly well in the early part of the season.
Though running the ball more may help Pittsburgh better their rushing stats, adding running back Rashard Mendenhall to the backfield rotation could help as well.
Since being activated from the physically unable to perform list this preseason, Mendenhall has steadily improved on the practice field. Mendy has even gotten to the point of practicing without a brace on his surgically repaired knee, and has taken some hits from teammates during drills.
Seeing that the fifth-year back has fully participated in all practices this regular season without any restrictions, I think that it’s safe to say that Mendenhall will be on the field at some point during the Steelers’ Week 5 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 23rd overall pick from the 2008 draft could add some explosiveness to Pittsburgh’s backfield, and if he produces, could possibly convince Haley to lean a little more on the running game.
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