By now you know the struggles the Pittsburgh Steelers experienced running the football in 2012.
Many feel that drafting Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell in the second round will fix some of those problems, but while the Steelers are likely changing featured backs in 2013, are they changing schemes as well?
New Steelers’ offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. has spent the early portions of the team’s organized activities this offseason introducing a zone-blocking scheme that has gotten the Steelers running backs and offensive lineman plenty excited.
According to Steelers’ running back Isaac Redman (via TribLive.com’s Mark Kaboly), the Steelers will be “dedicated to the zone.” in 2013.
That’s something we saw during OTA’s as it appears that the Steelers are scrapping their normal old style of running the football for a new -fashioned zone running offense that is catching on in the NFL.
Plenty of teams around the league use the zone scheme which features zone blocking throughout and more importantly, plenty of the top rushing teams in the league have made the change to the zone system over the course of the past five years or so.
Zone-blocking has been used to great success of late by Arian Foster and the Houston Texans, as it focuses on the offensive line shifting as one to a side, blocking areas of the field and double-teaming defensive linemen.
It is designed to open gaps on the outside, as well as cutback lanes, for rushers to choose on their own.
The Kansas City Chiefs run the same system and it helped spring running back Jamaal Charles for 1,509 rushing yards last season.
So far it seems to be a favorite among Steelers players as center Maurkice Pouncey loves the new style, according to Kaboly. Lineman Marcus Gilbert and Ramon Foster have also had plenty of good things to say about the offense during OTA’s as well.
Given the personnel, the change in scheme is likely long overdue.
But we will see how effective it is.
I order for the zone scheme to work, the Steelers running backs will have to get downhill in a hurry. That’s not exactly Redman’s and Jonathan Dwyer’s strengths and that’s asking a lot of Bell as a rookie to be able to pick things up quickly.
Who knows until camp begins how effective the Steelers will be running the football?
But after finishing 26th in the NFL a year ago in rushing and averaging only 3.7 yards per carry, a change was likely in order.