Before we get ready for tomorrow night's game against the Cleveland Browns, let's take a look at some of the more telling team and individual statistics through the 1st 12 games of the season.
The number of times a team rushes the ball is typically correlated directly to that team's win-loss record. Take a look at the bottom 5 teams in rushing attempts. See any teams with winning records? Me niether. In fact, there's not a team in the bottom 12 who has a winning record (Philly and Carolina are each .500). We check in at #22 with 25.9 rushes per game. In 2005, we had the 5th most rushing attempts , despite averaging .1 yards fewer per carry than this year .
I know we've gotten behind often this year, but I think that's happened partly beacuse we've abandoned the run too early in the game. If nothing else, running the ball more frequently would create more opportunities for TE Heath Miller, who almost all of us feel has been underutilized this year. Can anyone recall one of Big Ben's passes being picked off while throwing to Miller? There may have been one or two, but the bulk of Ben's picks have come on throws to his WRs. Running the ball more creatively and frequently is high atop my list of 'Things I Wish We Had Done Differently This Year.' While we're on the subject, let's talk about...
It's too bad Willie Parker has disappeared in several critical ballgames, because overall, he's had a very good, if not great season. Parker ranks 4th in the NFL in TDs and 8th in rushing yards . If he maintains his pace of about 80 yards per game, he'll finish the season with over 1300 yards rushing for the season. Despite all the talk of him wearing down, it hasn't happened...yet again. Parker is a tough customer and I'd be quite pleased to have him in our backfield for several more years. Could we benefit from another back to compliment him? A Michael Turner or Brandon Jacobs type option to relieve Willie 6-12 times a game? Sure we could, but so could every other team in the NFL. Let's see what Parker can do when we're not turning the ball over an inordinate number of times. By the way, he's ony lost two fumbles this year, so he hasn't been part of the problem in the turnover department.
I just noticed something while perusing the NFL Standings . Pittsburgh is the only team in the NFL with a losing record who has scored more points than allowed. We must also consider that opposing defenses have scored 5 TDs against our offense this year. As the cliche goes, 'you are what you are', but man is it hard to believe we are a 5-7 football team.