When LeGarrette Blount comes into the Steel City, Steelers fans will finally have what they have lacked since the departure of Jerome Bettis… A powerful, smash-mouth running back who will also greatly complement the quick running back in Le’Veon Bell. A question that has yet to be answered: What if Blount is the new Bettis…or better?
Blount, like Bettis in his first year with the Steelers, will be be coming off of a year with a limited role. In 1995 with the Rams, Bettis ran 183 times -- 53 percent of the attempted runs by backs on the team -- and for only 637 yards. The next year Bettis was traded to the Steelers, and The Bus resurrected his former stats and won NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award, leading the Steelers in rushing yards and touchdowns with 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns. (Bettis’s stats for career http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/389/jerome-bettis.)
In 2013, The Patriots ran the ball with a running back 430 times, with Blount only getting the ball 35 percent of the time. Blount ran 153 times, putting up 772 yards, and 7 touchdowns -- but for a massive 5.0 yards/carry. Blount also had an astounding game against the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs. In that game he ran for 166 yards on 24 carries, and scored 4 times. (Patriots 2013 stats http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/stats/_/name/ne/new-england-patriots, Blounts stats for career http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/13213/legarrette-blount, Blounts stats against Colts in 2013 playoffs http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=340111017.)
When Bettis played for the Steelers in his prime (1996-2001), the Steelers were a team with a run first offensive mindset. The team now headed by Big Ben is based on passing the ball. As Bettis’s former coach Bill Cowher said in an interview in late January, "For most of his career he played in an offense without a quarterback you could name."
Blount’s move from the Buccaneers to the Patriots brought out the potential that he displayed in his rookie campaign. Blount will come into The ‘Burgh wondering whether he will have a leading role or be an afterthought. (http://www.steelers.com/.) If he’s allowed to play a bigger part in Pittsburgh, like Bettis, he might evolve back into the player he was in his big rookie year. A prediction for the new Steeler this season is he will see more attempts than before -- and more third down conversions and short yardage touchdowns, and a new star power back will emerge. Blount has already shown he can gain first downs with 35 first downs last year. He also has an unknown amount of speed and explosiveness that gives him an aspect that Bettis never had. This speed gives the Steelers the ability to use him on second down and seven situations, a talent he proved with his impressive 5 yards/carry.
Legarrette Blount just came off a season in which he was allowed only to show glimpses of his former self. Bettis and Blount started their careers with amazing stats, followed by a decline in performance. Will Blount be the same or better than Bettis? Or will he fail? Bettis was able to have the amazing stats he had because the number of times the Steelers gave him the ball. Blount has the opportunity to provide the team much more than Bettis ever did. He is in the position to do something for the Steelers that Bettis couldn’t do alone. Blount can provide a power option for a team with a potential Hall of Famer playing quarterback.