When Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert promised changes to the team in his season-ending press conference, many people pointed to the running back spot as an area likely to look different next season.
Injuries and inconsistency helped the Steelers to their fewest rushing yards since 2003, which was also a year that ended without a playoff spot for Pittsburgh. Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall all had turns in the starting lineup and none of them proved up to the task of holding the job for more than a few games at a time. Mendenhall is a free agent after the season and team president Art Rooney II’s comments to the team website don’t paint a picture of a 2013 featuring Mendenhall in the lineup.
“The season Rashard had was not what we would have hoped for,” Rooney said. “Obviously, we knew he was coming back from an injury so there were some unknowns there. So, without getting into the real specifics with Rashard, it’s fair to say that we are going to need a better performance out of the running back position if we’re going to be successful, Whether it’s Rashard or Jonathan or Isaac or somebody else, we have to be better at that position, as well as others, but certainly at that position. In this offseason that’s something we’ve got to look at and decide how we get better and who we get better with.”
The website goes on to say that Mendenhall “seemed to cross the Rubicon” by not showing up for the team’s game against the Chargers this season, a decision that earned him a one-game suspension from the team. The team’s going to find someone to be the lead dog in the backfield next season, but it looks like a safe bet that said person’s name will not be Mendenhall.