The Steelers had a severe lack of depth at the running back position before the acquisition of LeGarrette Blount. Honestly, they still do. Recent history has shown it is difficult for running backs to stay healthy over the course of the NFL grind. This is trend around the NFL, not just with the Steelers.
For that reason, the acquisition of Blount was met with a sigh of relief from Steeler fans. However, does Blount warrant more than just a sigh? After watching some film on his performance in 2013, I would say yes.
This is a very good run. This is the stretch play that the Steelers so desperately tried in implement last year. The thing about zone runs is that they get big chunks of yards when they are cut back. Blount shows athleticism when he is able to cut the ball all the way back past Terrell Suggs.
Also impressive, is when the cut is made. The key to running zone is that the running back blocks the linebacker that has cutback. He does this by attacking the line of scrimmage. This puts the linebacker in a bind. The linebacker attacks the line of scrimmage, but Blount is able to cut the ball back behind him. Blount shows his athleticism with the initial cut, and then when he makes the corner miss.
There is a saying in boxing that if you are a tall fighter, then fight tall. Don't give up your height. Blount is a big back, and on this play he shows a willingness to run like a big back.
What is interesting about this play is that it is defensed well. The linebacker is unblocked as he hits Blount. Moreover, the Patriots do not get a push from the offensive line and the corner also comes in unblocked. None of the is a deterrent to Blount as he steamrolls into the endzone. The ability to run the ball like this inside of the 10 yard line will make the Steelers a much more effective red zone offense. A good red zone offense is able to run the ball in the red zone. That then opens up everything else.
This is a good example of one of the more annoying cliches in the NFL: A player making a play. But, that is exactly what happens here. The Ravens have two players unblocked at the point of attack. Blount is still able to score a touchdown. The ability to punch the ball into the end zone, or convert 3rd downs and move the chains will be a great asset to the Steelers.
Here is another example of Blount running decisively, showing athleticism, and running with power.
Blount attacks the line of scrimmage thus forcing both linebackers to also attack the line of scrimmage. The guard for the Patriots cannot move Kyle Williams of the Bills. Williams keeps his shoulders square and collapses the guard. Blount simply does a jump cut right around him.
Blount then ends the run with power as the members of the Bills secondary try to get him to the ground.
As we saw, Blount ran well against the Ravens. He also ran well against the stout Carolina Panthers run defense. Of course, he ran through, around, and all over the Indianapolis Colts during the playoffs. It was hard for me to find bad runs from Blount while he was with the Patriots last year.
With all of that being said, Blount was let go by the Tennessee Titans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded him for one of those cool Star Wars lunch boxes, and the Patriots seemed interesting in signing every other free agent in the NFL, except Blount. However, looking at the tape, it is difficult not to get excited about thinking about the combination of LeGarrette Blount and Le'Veon Bell in the backfield for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014.