The problem(s) with the running game

Really solid insight from Steelerbuddha as usual. Many have already seen this but it is good reading for a Monday Morning. (DYM)

The first step on the road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.

The second step is to come to believe that a power greater than yourself, Isaac Redman understanding your problem can help restore you to sanity.

In this post I will try analyze the problems facing the Steelers running game. I will use a video posted on Postgameheros, that shows the four running plays featuring Frank Summers.

I don't have simple answers. I don't think any exist. The only positive thing that I can say, is that while the problems were numerous, they strike me as fixable.

On to the video.

I recommend watching each of the plays a couple times, while using the pause button, to get a sense of what is going on.

I was going to copy stills of the plays and post them in my analysis, but even my procrastination has limits.

A Thursday Night With Frank Summers from Dagger on Vimeo.

Play 1. First Quarter. 2nd and 5. Running Back: Willie Parker Full Back: Frank Summers

Problem 1 - Titans have 9 in the box: Holmes is in single coverage with the safety cheating in before the snap.This gives me hope that the Titans were over-committing on the run. This strikes me as a fixable or exploitable problem.

Problem 2 -Kemo trips over his own feet: I had to watch this a couple times to beleive my eyes. Kemo just trips over himself while trying to pull. He not only takes himself out of the play but forces Parker back a couple yards. It is his man that ultimately makes the play. This is fixable, but it just makes you shake your head. Everyone makes mistakes. Even Hines Ward. Kemo makes too many.

Problem 3 - Frank the Tank - Whiff's on the DB: This is the Steelers bread and butter play. It's quite similiar to the 75 yard TD parker had in the superbowl. Pause the video at about 19 seconds. If Tank sustains his block, Willie should be able to beat the one guy coming at him. The Safety is 15 yards off at that point. Willie could pick up anywhwere between 10 and 60. This problem is also fixable. You just need to bring Dan Krieder out of retirement have Tank mature a bit and make that play.

The good news: Matt Spaeth - makes a hell of block (no seriously). Heath Miller does just enough to keep his guy out of the lane and not get called for holding. Colon and Essex get great push.

Prognosis: This play is on Summers and Kemo. If they do their job Parker has room to make magic. Wether Parker is still capable of making said magic remains to be seen.

Play 2: 1st Quarter - 1st and 10 Ball at the Tennesse 30. Running back Willie Parker. Full Backs David Johnson and Frank Summers.

This is kind of an odd formation, that Arians referred to as "the bone". Once again the Titans stack 9 in the box.

Problem 1 -Poor play design or execution: I am curious as to what this one looks like on paper. David Johnson and Frank Summers both fly at the left side of the line. Willie Parker seems to be going right by design.

I will give Arians the benifit of the doubt and assume that there is something else that should be happening. Perhaps Willie is supposed to follow his blockers left. Perhaps the Titans are supposed to bite and follow his blockers to left. Neither happens.

Willie's blockers go left. He goes right. He has two free Titans on the right side, covering his gaps. He doesn't even get there, because Willie Colon slides off his man to chip the corner, allowing Parker to be dragged down behind the line of scrimmage.

Prognosis: I have no clue. Poor play call? Poor execution? Bad read by Willie? All of the above? The only positive thing I can say is that if you pause the video at 37 seconds you can see a giant hole on the left hand side.

Play 3: 4th Quarter 2nd and 2. Ball on the Titans 10 yard line. Running Back Mewelde Moore. Full Back Frank Summers.

Problem 1: Once again the Titans are looking run all the way. With 2 yards to gain on second down they are giving Holmes a 6-7 yard cushion on the outside. Has no one seen this guy play? Seems like a quick out pass could give you a first down if not a TD. Alternatively a bootleg to Heath could create all sorts of problems for the Titans.

Problem 2: Moore chooses the inisde? - OK - honsetly I don't think this is really a problem, but I do think that in cases like this you should be able to improvise. Pause the video 1:04. Moore possibly has the room to break to the outside. He has nothing on the inside with one guy running free into his hole. I am assuming he thinks that he can make the guy miss or power through him. He doesn't.

Prognosis: Good D on the part of Titans. Summers makes his block, good for him. Moore to his credit hits the hole hard and for a moment it looks like he will pick up the first. I am not saying I want to cut Willie or Rashard, I do think Redman gets this first down.

Play 4: 4th quarter 3rd and 1 on the Titans 9. Running back Mewelde Moore Full back: Frank Summers.

Problem 1: Willie Colon goes to the ground and misses his man. Colon simply lunges at this guy and ends up on his knees. His man slips around him easily.

Problem 2: Matt Spaeth does the exact same thing. Summers correctly doubles up on Speath's man, but Moore has no where to go with Colon's guy in to the backfield basically untouched.

Prognosis: A good looking play call. Poor execution on the part of Colon an Spaeth, take the wind out of a Roethlisberger drive.

Overall prognosis. Our problems in the running game are wide-spread. I just looked at four plays but there was no lack of blame to go around. Linemen, TE's, and fullbacks all whiffed on big blocks. The backs had little room to make things happened, but they never made a guy miss or powered through a tackle. The play calling didn't seem terrible, but it seemed that Titans read run and were able to stop it by over-committing.

The good news is that these are fixable problems. The Titans have a great defense. They had no less than 9 guys in the box on all of those plays. This type of defense can and will be exploited by the Steelers down the road. Play action passes can take advantage of stacked defensive fronts. Quick outs, slants and Bootlegs might do the same.

I think that we will see a big improvement from the running game in week 2.

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