One of the stories of how disappointing the 2012 season was for the Pittsburgh Steelers was without a doubt their rushing attack that ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing and 28th with a 3.7 yards per carry average.
Many people would like to believe that things will be much better in 2013 and that could be true as it would be difficult to be as bad at running the football as the Steelers were this season.
But it is just as likely that the Steelers could have a repeat performance of their rushing woes in 2013.
That’s simply due to personnel.
Currently the Steelers only have one running back under contract and that’s Baron Batch.
Rashard Mendenhall is an unrestricted free agent, both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are restricted free agents and Chris Rainey was released following his arrest in Florida.
Mendenhall likely won’t be re-signed, while it is all but certain that both Dwyer and Redman will be tendered contracts.
But even with Dwyer and Redman in the mix for 2013, the Steelers will still be missing a capable feature back and that’s a problem.
Steelers’ general manager commented last week that the running back situation was unacceptable; leading you to believe that there would be changes upcoming.
“Where we were in the running game last year was indicative of the talent at the position,” said Colbert. “That group of players didn’t produce the way we anticipated they would.”
So how do the Steelers improve at the position?
There’s free agency, but that is all but doubtful. The running back position is very thin and they won’t be shelling out the money for a Reggie Bush or a Steven Jackson type of runner.
That leaves the draft, which is also thin on talent this year.
Give the needs the Steelers have at other positions, it is doubtful that they will be able to nab Giovani Bernard or Eddie Lacy in the first round, as both could be off the board before the Steelers pick at No. 17.
But the Steelers did surprise people four years ago by taking Mendenhall in the first round, so anything is possible.
If they wait until later in the draft to address the need that means reaching on a project, but we have seen time and time again that later round running backs have been successful. But that means getting the right guy.
The rest of my Top 10 backs look like this: Marcus Lattimore, Joseph Randle, Jawan Jamison, Johnathan Franklin, Andre Ellington, Montee Ball, Stepfan Taylor and Kenjon Barner. Some of these guys just aren’t good fits for the Steelers system.
But the Steelers need the right guy to improve on the ground.
Given their salary cap situation parlayed with other holes to fill, getting that type of feature back may not be as easy as people may think it may be.
If they don’t go running back early in the draft, don’t be surprised if the Steelers once again struggle running the football in 2013.