There has been a notable absence in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backfield this season, whether it has been as a result of injury or punishment, and that has been Rashard Mendenhall.
But with only three games remaining in the season, Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin needs to drop the tough-guy act and hand the feature-back role back to Mendenhall.
To me it’s very simple. With three games left in the regular season and the Steelers facing at least two must-win games, Tomlin has to play his best players.
As myself, Matt Gajtka and Zac Weiss discussed on the latest episode of Three Rivers…One Show on Monday, there’s simply no denying the fact that Mendenhall is the most talented back on the Steelers’ roster. He likely won’t be back next season, but he can still make an impact this year.
I had no problem with Tomlin riding the hot hand of Jonathan Dwyer while he was hot, but that ship has since sailed. If Dwyer is only going to get eight carries like he did against San Diego, it makes much more sense to go with the more talented player.
Since Dwyer’s 107-yard performance against the Washington Redskins, he hasn’t rushed for more than 56 yards in a game, which came way back against the Kansas City Chiefs. In that time, he has carried the rock 64 times or only 211 yards, a 3.3-yard average.
While offensive coordinator Todd Haley has seemed to go away from trying to establishing a rushing attack at times, when he does commit to running the ball, Dwyer often has to tap out after two carries and come out of the game.
Mendenhall really hasn’t had the opportunity to show what he can do this season. Much of that has been due to injury and fumbling the football, but with must-win scenarios ahead of the Steelers, it’s time to get him back involved.
This late in the season you play your best players and with no disrespect to Dwyer or Isaac Redman, that man has to be Mendenhall.
Of course with the way the banged up Steelers’ offensive line is run blocking at the moment it might not matter who the back is, but I’m willing to roll the dice with the guy that has gotten the job done plenty of times in the past.