Last week, before the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week-4 contest against the Baltimore Ravens, our local stat geek (58Steel) dove head-first into the numbers regarding the team’s running game. His conclusion was, if the team just ran the ball more, they would see more success — and he was right.
He was so emphatically correct, we decided to do a follow-up on the article on the Pittsburgh running game (which you can read HERE) as they prepare to face the league’s worst rushing defense on Sunday in the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Now to the geeky stuff:
Recall last week's numbers on "successful" runs vs the Bears:
16 runs, 10 successful, or 62.5% success rate
41 runs, 19 successful, or 46.3% success rate
So volume was certainly a large part of the difference. Remember, the Steelers DID NOT run the ball on consecutive plays versus the Bears even one time. Against the Ravens, the Steelers ran the ball on consecutive plays eight separate times. This included two occasions of five-straight running plays. Commitment to the run was one of the main differences.
Looking further into the numbers:
Versus the Bears, four runs resulted in first downs and one TD, or 31.3%
Versus the Ravens, eight runs resulted in first downs, two TDs, or 24.4%
Still, not a big difference between the two games. Actually, the numbers from the Bears game are higher in these two categories.
But then we get to:
Versus the Bears, one run of 10+ yards, or 6.3%
Versus the Ravens, five runs of 10+ yards, or 12.2%
Chunk plays in the run game are the big difference here.
In our conversation following the Week-4 win, I mentioned to 58Steel how it looked to me the Steelers were running more plays with pulling players than any other time this season.
Well, you know he just had to go back and check it out...he is the stat geek after all.
Also, since you commented on the perception of the Steelers pulling lineman more in the Ravens game, I went back and charted that for the 4 games:
Browns: runs-14, pulls-5 (0 counters), 35.7%
Vikings: runs-30, pulls-11 (2 counters), 36.6%
Bears: runs-16, pulls-3 (0 counters), 18.7%
Ravens: runs-41, pulls-20 (9 counters), 48.8%
You're eyes were correct. The Steelers ran a play involving a "puller" on nearly half their plays vs the Ravens. After seeing almost none the week before, the stark contrast jumped out at you. Also, note the number of counters (my favorite play) run. 45% of their "pull plays" were counters.
In conclusion, the Steelers’ success with the running game might not be solely attributed to the fact they’re running the ball more, but it’s hard to ignore these stats when it comes to their overall approach and the result when it comes to the running game.
The more they toll the ‘Bell’, the more it rings. You can officially put the Jaguars on notice, if they weren’t already.