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Steelers running backs coach doesn’t want a backfield committee

Le'Veon Bell, Troy Polamalu AP

The Steelers struggled to run the ball effectively last season while employing a committee approach to the tailback spot.

Part of the reason for that was necessity since the Steelers couldn’t keep a back healthy long enough to become the feature back. Even when the backs were healthy, though, the Steelers went with multiple players in the backfield. Running backs coach Kirby Wilson would like to avoid that this season.

“You would love to have a back who can play first down through third down,” Wilson said, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s always the best. Now, you have players who can spell a starter, then you have situational players that have strengths in other areas, put for the most part you always want a guy who is there first through third.”

Since we’ve got a good idea of what Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman can do, the most obvious candidate to end the shuffling in the backfield is rookie Le’Veon Bell. It might be a tall order for a rookie back to jump into that role right off the bat, especially when Dwyer, Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling are on hand to keep Bell from being overwhelmed. Preseason action and the first few weeks of the regular season will give some insight into whether that turns out to be the case, but it seems likely that the team will still be running by committee a little bit longer.

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23 Responses to “Steelers running backs coach doesn’t want a backfield committee”
  1. dadindebt6 says: Aug 8, 2013 12:25 PM

    I don’t care if it is feature back or by committee. As long as they are running effectively,chewing up the clock, and scoring from inside the five yard line, I’ll be thrilled.

  2. Steeley McBeam says: Aug 8, 2013 12:29 PM

    As soon as Dwyer got some momentum last year he would be tapping his helmet to come off because he was tired. If he had the stamina to finish off a 40 yard dash he could have been great for stretches.

    Bell has looked good so far I cant wait to see what hes got in live action on Saturday night. He carried over 300 times last year so conditioning isnt an issue. Although, I would love to see him getting tired from running 10-15 yards at a time for four or five straight plays, unlike the 2-6 yard carries exhausting Dwyers fat ass last season.

    Its all about the health of the OLine. The starting 5 plus Beachum can certainly open up some running lanes which we saw a few times last year when everyone was healthy. Let Bell string together some carries to get some momentum going and they will be just fine. Once that opens up the play-action for Ben, watch out.

  3. Nofoolnodrool says: Aug 8, 2013 12:31 PM

    I think any back would gain significant yardage behind a healthy o line. Steelers need their line to jell for any of these backs to produce, but I think the rookie will be a great addition.

  4. Stiller43 says: Aug 8, 2013 12:33 PM

    Sidenote: Bell is starting vs the Giants.

  5. z06vision says: Aug 8, 2013 12:33 PM

    “Steelers running backs coach doesn’t want a backfield committee”….
    Stating the obvious?

  6. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Aug 8, 2013 12:38 PM

    Note to self: Move Le’Veon Bell up on the cheat sheet.

  7. aaroncurryisbust says: Aug 8, 2013 12:41 PM

    Sounds like he wishes he had Marshawn Lynch.

  8. Joemontanaflacco says: Aug 8, 2013 1:41 PM

    Bernard Pierce is the only rookie with enough talent to start his rookie year. Bell is going to get stuffed like a “bell” pepper when he sees the Ravens’ new D. Dwyer and Redman? Give me a break! Six days until Colbert signs a FA RB.

  9. rockinrodie says: Aug 8, 2013 1:51 PM

    great post mcbeam. conditioning was a factor all season for the running backs. this is why tomlin is coaching this season like his job could be on the line. there’s urgency this camp. going back to the jan ’12 tebow playoff debacle, this team hasn’t played with urgency, which is why they’re 8-9 during that time.

  10. bobzilla1001 says: Aug 8, 2013 1:54 PM

    There was nothing wrong with an offensive line that allowed just 37 sacks last season. This perception that the Steelers’ O-line stinks is a fallacy perpetuation by Roethlisberger’s Apologists.
    The O-lines in Chicago and Green Bay are atrocious, yet Aaron Rodgers managed to throw 39 TD passes last season behind a line that gave up over 50 sacks.
    Tomlin went to the running back-by-committee last season not because of the O-line but because Redman, Mendenhall and Dwyer couldn’t stop fumbling away the ball. Instead of showing patience, Tomlin would yank a back at the first sign of a fumble…

  11. johnelwayishorsefaced says: Aug 8, 2013 2:12 PM

    Le’Veon Bell is an absolute beast. I watched every game he played at Michigan State and there’s no question he should have been the first running back taken in the draft. The Bengals are idiots for taking Giovani Bernard over him.

  12. Nofoolnodrool says: Aug 8, 2013 2:37 PM

    There was nothing wrong with an offensive line that allowed just 37 sacks last season. This perception that the Steelers’ O-line stinks is a fallacy perpetuation by Roethlisberger’s Apologists.
    The O-lines in Chicago and Green Bay are atrocious, yet Aaron Rodgers managed to throw 39 TD passes last season behind a line that gave up over 50 sacks.
    Tomlin went to the running back-by-committee last season not because of the O-line but because Redman, Mendenhall and Dwyer couldn’t stop fumbling away the ball. Instead of showing patience, Tomlin would yank a back at the first sign of a fumble…

    1 0 not apologizing for Ben at all and I thought we were talking about running backs? Is Ben now a running back. I also know in your world Ben is the cause of all the steelers problems offense and defense. But I hey I defer to your knowledge of all things football and the steelers.

  13. finallythevoiceofreason says: Aug 8, 2013 2:42 PM

    bobzilla, you could not be more wrong in your assessment. The Steelers’ top 4 RBs had injuries at some point last year and they played a few games starting the #5 guy on their depth chart. Plus 4 out of 5 starters on the offensive line missed playing time on top of that. Everyone knows that the Steelers’ offensive line has been offensive over the last few years, why do you think they drafted 4 OL with early picks in the last few years? Roethlisberger was having his best season by far until he got hurt last year.

  14. finallythevoiceofreason says: Aug 8, 2013 2:47 PM

    “Bernard Pierce is the only rookie with enough talent to start his rookie year”
    -
    Rashard Mendenhall was going to be a starter his rookie year until Ray Lewis broke his shoulder in response to a bounty put on Mendenhall after he texted that he would have a big night against the Ravens. Rashard deserved it but look who it came from.

  15. steelerben says: Aug 8, 2013 2:52 PM

    When taking a look at the performance of the line last year, you can’t just look at sacks allowed. Profootballfocus.com has the Steeler’s offensive line listed at 25th in the league when taking into account the sacks, hits, hurries, penalties, and effectiveness blocking for the running and screen game. While that is ranked a few slots above Chicago’s line, which was undoubtedly horrible, it is four slots BEHIND that Green Bay line which was much improved after replacing Saturday at center.

    The running back by committee approach wasn’t solely limited to pulling backs because of fumbles, either. Injuries also played a large role in the rotating backfield. Conditioning, familiarity with the offensive system, and pass blocking skill also played into the equation.

    In an offense where your big plays come on play action after a solid power running game and otherwise has a “dink and dunk” possession passing game, it is no wonder the team ranked 26th in scoring.

    Can Le’Veon Bell be a three down back with Howlings playing the role of Mwelde Moore and Dwyer/Redman in the goal line or change of pace role? We will find out. I certainly hope so.

  16. finallythevoiceofreason says: Aug 8, 2013 2:58 PM

    Steelers have the youngest starting OL and the youngest backfield in the NFL now. Feast or Famine. Where are the “too old” comments?

  17. steelcurtainn says: Aug 8, 2013 3:52 PM

    I can’t wait to see Leveon”ring your” Bell run the football. If he is good as advertised the steelers running game will be much improved with the new scheme…….I also do not want to see a running back by committee. It never lets a back get into the rhythm of a game…. Its going to be fun watching the offensive lineman plow through defenders. I looking forward to watching all the lineman but in particular hopefully watching David DeCastro go a whole full season.

  18. randomcommenter says: Aug 8, 2013 4:45 PM

    Bell is far better than Lacy. Lacy is good at running through big holes. He may do well in GB because defense are so scared of their passing game so h will get easy yards like he did at Bama.

    Bell is big but he had great times in quickness and agility drills, even better than smaller speed backs. He’s a great athlete and not a battering ram.

  19. jmblosser82 says: Aug 8, 2013 5:25 PM

    I don’t care how they run it, they just need someone to shine

  20. bobzilla1001 says: Aug 8, 2013 7:19 PM

    finallythevoice:
    Mendenhall was not hurt enough to be benched basically the entire season. He skipped a game he wasn’t even going to play, and Tomlin suspended him, then sat him. Mendenhall was by far the best and most accomplished back on the team last season, yet he seldom played. Tomlin’s ego got in the way of the betterment of the team…
    Secondly, at the time of Roethlisberger’s questionable injuries (in the first half of the 9th game vs. the 1-7 Chiefs), the offense ranked 19th in scoring and the team’s record was 5-3. Against KC, a still-healthy Roethlisberger completed 9 of 18 passes for 84 yards in a 10-10 tie. The Steelers eventually won the game without him.
    I guess by Roethlisberger’s low standards, that was “having his best season by far.” However, based purely on pay grade, I expect more from my $100 million quarterback. But that’s just me.
    Last season’s O-line played well. It played well because Max Starks was an important and dependable part of it. But Max is gone now. Tomlin finally rid the team of the line’s most valuable tackle.

  21. blackngold4life says: Aug 9, 2013 1:44 AM

    Mwelde Moore back in Pittsburgh?? Anyway…RBs need REPS..TOUCHES. Find ya starter and go with him

  22. blackngold4life says: Aug 9, 2013 1:49 AM

    And I agree..Mendenhall was the best RB on the roster. Tomlin let his ego get in the way of letting him play. OK he says some stupid things..so what. He’s better then Dwyer and Redman.

  23. phathead7 says: Aug 10, 2013 10:12 AM

    bobzilla,how was BIG BENS injury questionable?he missed 4 games and clearly was not healthy when he came back.here is BIG BENS stats from last year 63% completion percentage,3265 yards,26 td,8 int, qb rating of 97.BIG BEN did this in 12 games.BIG BEN was a MVP cannidate until he got hurt.played behind an awful oline due to injuries across the board.mendenhal was a distraction and tomlin finally had enough.that is why he plays for arizona now.who is your team bob?who is your qb,rb?you must be a raven troll.who is your boy flacco going to pass too this year?your best wr left now you got nothing.

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