The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a bye week with a complete healthy roster and plenty of rest. A key player returning is running back Rashard Mendenahall, who they desperately need. The Steelers are ranked 30th in rushing and have been struggling this season moving the ball on the ground with Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, and Chris Rainey.
The problem with the rushing attack has been the offensive line’s lack of ability to open up lanes for these backs and now with Mendenhall returning there is more pressure on this line to open up holes for the Steelers premiere back. The main problem on this line have been the guards not being able to pull and make their blocks. Now this is the same offensive line that has been protecting Ben to a decent extent, forcing the offense to rely on a passing game that is ranked seventh in the league.
So why is this offensive line struggling to make blocks when they do such a good job of pass blocking? It could be that the offensive play calling has not changed much despite having a new offensive coordinator causing the line to get exhausted early in the game, or it could be players like Willie Colon making a change from a tackle to a guard. Whatever it is, these guys have been told to do a job and they need to do it. There will be more pressure and a lot of concerns if the run game does not improve with Mendenhall on the field.
Having four healthy backs, all with different styles of run should benefit the Steelers and the offensive line, giving them plenty of weapons to use however they want. Going up against an Eagles’ defense who ranks seventh in stopping the run does not make it any easier for Pittsburgh.
Mendenhall’s return alone will not suddenly make the Steelers a good team running the football. The pressure is on the five guys up front to get the job done.
If the run game continues to struggle then do not be surprised to see some shuffling around on the line, trying to find a combination that will work. Otherwise we could end up seeing this team throw the football an awful lot.