In the offseason, Bruce Arians ruffled a few feathers by saying "We don't need to run the ball more, we just need to run the ball better"
At the time, a few of us, myself included, thought "Osh..here we go again, Bruce is gonna pass pass pass even without Ben Roethlisberger."
Hold that thought. Through three games, have the Steelers either increased Quantity or Quality of their running attack in 2010, as compared to 2009?
STEELERS RUSHING COMPARISONS: 2009 to 2010
To use the first three weeks of the 2009 season I find irrelevant, seeing as Rashard Mendenhall did not become our starting running back until week four. I will use the averages from Week Four onwards as a comparison to this seasons.
2009 (Weeks 4 - 17):
Average Rush Attempts Per Game: 27.3
Average Rushing Yards Per Game: 119.2
Average Rush TDs Per Game: 0.6
Average Rushing YPC: 4.37
2010 (Weeks 1 - 3):
Average Rush Attempts Per Game: 32.0
Average Rushing Yards Per Game: 150.0
Average Rush TDs Per Game: 0.67
Average Rushing YPC: 4.7
So looking at it this way, so far through three games, we are only rushing it 5 times more per game on average than last season. But the differences are there in yards per game and yards per carry. We havent had our starting Quarterback for the first three weeks, so these numbers do not count the number of "8 in the box" looks our offense has been given by opposing defenses.
So overall, it seems our Offensive Line and running game has been a huge asset so far this season. What are defenses going to do when Big Ben returns. They cannot stack the 8 in the box like they have, because Big Ben is a much more dangerous passer than anyone else we have started at Quarterback so far this season.
I for one feel these numbers will greatly improve over the season with Ben back. You have to give the Coaching staff, particularly new Offensive Line Coach Sean Kugler, and Bruce Arians (yes I just said that) their due. They are not running the ball exceptionally more than last season, but we are definitely running it better. The best part is, we havent seen the best out of this rushing attack yet.
STEELERS OPPONENTS RUSHING PERFORMANCES. HOW WE STACK UP AGAINST OTHER OPPONENTS
As requested by a BTSC Member in another post, I compiled a breakdown of how the teams we have played have performed running the ball so far this season:
Week One @ Pittsburgh Steelers:
Michael Turner: 19 carries for 42 yards at 2.2 ypc
Total Rushing Attack: 25 carries for 58 yards at 2.3 ypc Zero Touchdowns
Week Two vs Arizona Cardinals:
Michael Turner: 9 carries for 75 yards at 8.3 ypc
Jason Snelling: 24 carries for 129 yards at 5.4 ypc, 2 touchdowns
Total Rushing Attack: 45 carries for 221 yards at 4.9 ypc 2 touchdowns
Week Three @ New Orleans Saints:
Michael Turner: 30 carries for 114 yards at 3.8 ypc, 1 touchdown
Jason Snelling: 14 carries for 62 yards at 4.4 ypc
Total Rushing Attack: 50 carries for 202 yards at 4.0 ypc 1 touchdown
As you can see, Atlanta has a very strong running game, averaging over 200 yards per game in their two wins,
however stunned to just 58 yards versus the Steelers
Week One vs Oakland Raiders:
Chris Johnson: 27 carries for 142 yards at 5.3 ypc, 2 touchdowns
Javon Ringer: 5 carries for 33 yards at 6.6 ypc, 1 touchdown
Total Rushing Attack: 39 carries for 205 yards at 5.3 ypc 3 touchdowns
Week Two vs Pittsburgh Steelers:
Chris Johnson: 16 carries for 34 yards at 2.1 ypc
Total Rushing Attack: 22 carries for 46 yards at 2.1 ypc Zero Touchdowns
Week Three @ New York Giants:
Chris Johnson: 32 carries for 125 yards at 3.9 ypc, 2 touchdowns
Total Rushing Attack: 41 carries for 161 yards at 3.9 ypc 2 touchdowns
Again, the Titans average 180 ypg not versus the Steelers, yet we held their entire team and the immortal CJ2YPC
to a mere 46 rushing yards total. CJ2YPC averages 133.5 yards per game not against the Steelers this season
Week One vs Cleveland Browns:
Cadillac Williams: 22 carries for 75 yards at 3.4 ypc
Total Rushing Attack: 30 carries for 119 yards at 4 ypc Zero Touchdowns
Week Two @ Carolina Panthers:
Cadillac Williams: 27 carries for 51 yards at 1.9 ypc
Total Rushing Attack: 34 carries for 95 yards at 2.8 ypc Zero Touchdowns
Week Three vs Pittsburgh Steelers:
Cadillac Williams: 6 carries for 13 yards at 2.2 ypc
LeGarrette Blount: 6 carries for 27 yards at 4.5 ypc, 1 touchdown
Total Rushing Attack: 21 carries for 75 yards at 3.6 ypc 1 touchdown
As you can see, Tampa Bay has the least potent rushing attack of the three teams we have played, however they
can boast to be the only team thus far to score a touchdown against the Steelers rushing Defense. Albeit, in
garbage time late in the game
Opponents in Total vs Pittsburgh Steelers:
68 carries for 179 yards at 2.6 yards per carry, 1 touchdown
Average of 22.7 carries for 59.7 yards per game, 1/3 of a touchdown per game
Opponents Totals in Other Games:
239 carries for 1003 yards at 4.2 yards per carry, 8 touchdowns
Average of 39.8 carries for 167.2 yards per game, 1.3 touchdowns per game
Not bad. Anyone who is trying to dismiss the Steelers really just has to look at the numbers. And yes, you should be scared.