Running the ball may have been easier in 2012 if there weren't so many defenders around the line of scrimmage.
It'd be fair for Steelers running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman to say that. According to a Pro Football Focus study, of Redman's 110 carries in 2012, 28 of them came facing eight defenders in the box - that's 25.45 percent, the ninth-highest total in the NFL (of running backs with 100 or more carries).
Redman certainly wasn't alone.
Dwyer, who led the team with 156 carries and 623 yards, faced an eight-man box on exactly 25 percent of his carries, the 12th highest total in the league. The league average was 23.25 percent, and 42 running backs had 100 or more carries last year.
So what does it mean?
Probably not much, without formation and package information coming along with it - which PFF says it's working on at the moment. A few reasonable guesses behind what PFF might find would include a higher amount of double tight ends on early downs and a less-than-normal amount of three receiver or tight end split out packages.
It will be interesting to see what their numbers suggest, but the bigger picture look would be to wonder why, the Steelers having had the athleticism they did on the outside last year, they ran into loaded defenses as often as they did.
Then again, San Francisco LT Joe Staley might be able to answer the philosophy behind it, after 49ers RB Frank Gore was found to lead the league with 42.25 percent.
@pff good thing we got away from the running game with all those 8 man fronts ha! We laugh at 8 man fronts— Joe Staley (@jstaley74) May 8, 2013