Let me start off this post by saying that I am preparing for my inevidable crucifixion by Steeler fans across the nation, and I ask Steeler Country to go easy on me as I lay out the following bold statement.
Willie Parker is not the solution when it comes to the Steelers running game. I am sorry to have to say it, but it's been my opinion ever since he came into the league. With that said, I think it's a little unfair to judge Fast Willie Parker (FWP) based on his '08 stats, because he has missed some games due to injury. So I went back to his 2007 stats, when he had arguably his best year with team, nearly winning the NFL's rushing title before being injured in the game against the Rams.
In 2007, FWP finished with 1,316 yards on 321 carries; an average of 4.1 yards per carry. As you look back further into FWP's stats from '06, '05, and '04, you will notice that his yards per carry increased. The translation, and I really hate to say it, because I know there are a lot of die hard FWP fans out there, but Willie Parker does better when he is in a complementary back role. I think Willie Parker is a great player, and I think his yardage stats speak for themselves. But when it comes down to it, the Steelers are a hard nosed, grind it out, punch-you-in-the-face kind of football team, and in my opinion, that type of team needs a bruiser at running back, and at 5'10" and 209 pounds, FWP is as Jerome Bettis once said, "like a Ferrari...when you get a little dinged up, you come out of the game and the bus comes in."
Why do I feel this way? While FWP stats are amazing in terms of his yardage, I think yards-per-carry is more important. Willie Parker's vision is not the best. On several occasions against the Cowboys, FWP would hit the wall of offensive linemen when he could have easily cut back and hit the hole for a big gain.
So where does this leave us in terms of the solution. Two words...Brandon Jacobs. I understand that Jacobs just recently got injured, but hear me out on this one. Listed at 6'4" and 264 pounds, Jacobs has already rushed for over 1000 yards this season and 12 TD's. Last season when FWP almost won the rushing title, FWP only had 2 TD's. Simply put, I think that Jacobs has the body type to be a Steelers workhorse. He's rushing for an average of 5.1 yards-per-game, and I know its only a difference of about a yard, but with a 264 pound frame, Jacobs can literally run OVER defenders, not to mention wear them down. WIth regards to Jacobs' knee injury; the fact that he was able to walk off the field under his own power is huge. Additionally, I'm not looking for instant gratification. I know that a trade for Jacobs is possible a few years down the road, and I think the Steelers should really consider it if the idea should come across anyone's desk.
I really think that the Steelers could aquire Jacobs if they wanted to. I'm not sure when Jacobs' contract is up, but I think we've got some good value that we could trade for Jacobs. With all of that said, go easy on me Steelers fans, after all, it's just my opinion, and it's not like I'm in any position to do anything about it.