Steelers vs. Bears: Pittsburgh planning to call more outside zone runs in Week 3

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Any would be an increase from the last two weeks. The Steelers spent time and effort implementing an outside zone running scheme that apparently depended almost entirely on Maurkice Pouncey.

Is it a rope-a-dope if an NFL team plans to run one kind of offense, then abandons it if a key player gets injured?

Introducing the Steelers' outside zone-a-dope scheme. It emphasizes the practice of an outside zone run concept, but then only runs power - all to the tune of 37.5 yards a game.

Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert spoke specifically about the use of the much-heralded outside zone concept recently, but it just sounds too familiar to not get a chuckle.

As quoted by Ray Fittipaldo of the Post-Gazette: "We're going to use that a lot more," Gilbert said Wednesday after practice. "We barely used it in first two games. That will really help us out. Teams saw we were a gap, downhill team. Now, we can throw different stuff at them and change it up.

"We can go power or use a zone scheme. We got away from it after Pouncey went down. We haven't used it. That was working for us in the preseason when we were knocking out yards. I think we'll come back to that this week."

Remove the reference to Pouncey and the preseason, isn't this all pretty much what was said the entire offseason? The only conclusion from these statements (and no, we aren't pretending Marcus Gilbert is speaking directly on behalf of the team) is Pittsburgh spent a significant chunk of time and personnel on the implementation of a running scheme that depended on one player so heavily they couldn't run it for the two weeks following his injury.

And it remains to be seen how we'll or how often they'll run it against Chicago Sunday.

Pouncey aside, though, another issue is which running back they'd feel comfortable in this concept. Neither Isaac Redman nor Jonathan Dwyer seem like good fits with it. Felix Jones has experience with it, and, after an opening-kickoff injury to Redman, Jones started and got the first three carries of the game.

None of the aforementioned players or runs were exactly impressive, though.

But the scheme will save all?

The Bears saw the Steelers not running zone. The Bears saw a team that didn't run, period. If the scheme fails without Pouncey, and now, with the inclusion of Fernando Velasco fully versed on the concept (one he ran in Tennessee), maybe they'll call the running backs on this team out for once - and not just bench them without explanation.

That's only being brought up because people saw David Paulson play plenty after his gaffe against Cincinnati. The sign out from says "The standard is the standard." Hopefully they reach that standard Sunday.

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