It wasn’t necessarily the injuries, or the unsettled line. At some point, the Steelers got back to running the ball well by simply being the Steelers.
After averaging 65 yards per game on the ground over their first three, they’ve averaged 155 rushing yards per game over the last three, and that’s with different backs doing the work.
“You see our running backs, man?” Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace said, via Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It doesn’t matter who you plug in, they run for 100.”
“I want to get back there and play running back, see how many yards I can get,” linebacker Larry Foote added.
While Foote probably won’t get a carry, plenty of other people have. While Rashard Mendenhall can’t stay healthy, Isaac Redman got 147 yards against the Giants and Jonathan Dwyer had 122 yards on the Bengals and 107 on the Redskins.
But the secret was streamlining the offense rather than adding things. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley ditched chapters of the playbook and asked less of his offense, and a three-game win streak speaks to the results.
“I think the key is we’re keeping it simple,” left guard Willie Colon said. “Early in the year, we were doing a little too much maybe. We’re keeping it extremely simple and starting to be repetitive and really owning in to what we’ve got to do.”
“You watch it on film from the beginning of the year to now, and it’s like night and day,” Redman added. “I feel like they (the offensive line) are comfortable, and we’re running strictly runs that we’re pretty good at.”
Doing less rather than more runs counter to every coaching instinct, but in this case, it was clearly the right move.