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2012 State of the Steelers Part Two - - RB's
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Sould the Steelers re-sign Rashard Mendenhall
yes
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no
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Steeler Hitman


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:49 am    Post subject: 2012 State of the Steelers Part Two - - RB's Reply with quote

I have recovered from getting my a$$ handed to me about my Willie Colon comments. I guess I won't sell many "Keep Sweet D@#$ Willie" T-shirts. Anyway here's my take on the running back position. Be gentle, my arse is sore from the Colon butt-chewing youins gave me. Very Happy

2012 State of the Steelers - - RB

The Steelers have a tradition of feature RB’s that go from “Hey Diddle Diddle Rogel Up the Middle” to Marion Motley to John Henry Johnson to Franco Harris to Jerome Bettis to Fast Willie Parker to Rashard Mendenhall to the 2012 three headed monster named Jonathan Isaac Mendenhall. The latter will not be branded in Steeler fans hearts.

Mendenhall gives the Steelers a talented feature back with size, speed and strength. Redman gives them power, toughness and good hands out of the backfield. Dwyer gives them a big durable back that runs downhill well. Chris Rainey gives them speed, quickness and a homerun threat at RB. Will Johnson is a tough FB who can block and catch the ball out of the backfield.

The problem is that despite all of that depth, the productivity did not match the talent. There will be some changes here and a new back via the draft and/or possibly free agency are options. Many early draft gurus are predicting Wisconsin’s Montee Ball or local Pitt RB Ray Graham as possible additions. San Francisco’s Brandon Jacobs and Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount will be seeking employment as well.
Here’s a breakdown of the current players:

Baron Batch - - I feel bad for this player. He was having a very good pre-season his rookie year. He displayed quickness and toughness as a potential 3rd down RB before tearing up his knee. He came back and bounced in and off the roster before being placed on IR in 2012. Batch’s career early can be described as uneventful.

He seems to be a better pass blocker picking up the blitz rather than running and catching the ball. He was average on special teams and his days in Pittsburgh will probably be numbered. The team will upgrade and add depth at RB. Unless Batch dramatically improves, he will be looking elsewhere to take his talents. Batch is not a natural instinctive RB. He missed a lot of holes (in his limited attempts) and it looked like he often did too much thinking instead of running. In the NFL, he who hesitates is dead.

Jonathan Dwyer - - Dwyer made some positive improvements in 2012. I don’t see him as a feature back in the Steelers offense. He offers a similar set of skills as Redman, except he may be a more instinctive runner. Like Redman, Dwyer showed that he can catch the ball out of the backfield and isn’t shy about making contact. Dwyer is light on his feet for a big running back and this talent has helped him make some long runs during his brief career.

Dwyer doesn’t always hit the hole hard and has some inconsistencies in reading blocks as do all of the Steelers running backs. My concern is that the Steelers OL seems to be evolving into more athletic lineman like DeCastro and Pouncey and Dwyer’s style seems to fit more of a power running game as opposed to a read and react style. I think the team will do whatever to resign him and give him the first crack at being the #1 back, but is his style the most effective for the team’s style and talents?

Will Johnson - - Had a nice year and has been the Steelers first true FB since Thunder Dan Krieder. Johnson did a decent job of lead blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield. He was an upgrade over David Johnson who was an H-Back trying to play FB out of necessity. Right now, Johnson seems to have the most job security at RB. He was a very pleasant surprise and should continue to improve and grow. Johnson was a definite upgrade over TE/H-B/FB David Johnson in both blocking and catching.

Rashard Mendenhall - - Mendy was the consolation prize to losing out on Brendan Albert and Jonathan Stewart. Mendy was thought to be a top 10 -15 pick that fell in or laps. He looked like he may be a blessing in disguise when he fell to the Steelers. At the end of his contract, the Mendy/ Limas Sweed project turned out to be pipe dream for the Steelers offense.

Blessed with size, strength and speed, Mendy displayed potential and upside in his rushing numbers in 2009 and 2010, despite the Steelers OL being called the offenses Achilles heel. He was considered by many as one of the top six or seven backs in the entire NFL during those years. Well, an untimely fumble in the Super Bowl, some comments that offended many about Bin Laden, a torn ACL in Cleveland in 2011, multiple fumbles in Cleveland in 2012, a benching, and then skipping the Chargers game because he was inactive have helped fans pack Mendy’s bags out of Pittsburgh.

Mendy has seemed to have untimely mental lapses on the field and off. Here is a classic case of a change of scenery may be needed to recharge Mendy’s career. In Mendy’s defense, the Steelers never afforded him a top OL to run and thrive in. Mendy seems to have regained some of the form and speed that made him successful in 2009 and 2010. However, it appears that these talents will be taken elsewhere.

There was a report that the Steelers were trying to negotiate a contract with Mendy while he was suspended for skipping the Chargers game because he was inactive. I am not so sure about the team’s seriousness to resign Mendy. I know many of the fan’s view, and I would be very surprised to see Mendy running the ball for the Steelers in 2013. In the words of Denise Williams and Johnny Mathis, “Too much, too little, too late to try again with you. Yes, it’s over!”

Chris Rainey - - Showed a lot of flash and speed in the kick return game. However, for as dynamic a kick returner, despite not taking one to the house, Rainey was not used much in punt returns and never got let loose in Todd Haley’s offense. Rainey has the speed and wiggle to give opposing defenses nightmares.

It is a mystery why he was not more effectively used by Todd Haley especially when the offense sputtered in the second half of the season. If the Steeler are going to rebound offensively, they must use all of the tools in their belt. Rainey adds explosion to the Steelers offense and special teams. They must figure out ways to get him touches on offense and defense a la Darrin Sproiles for the Saints.

Isaac Redman - - Is a powerful running back who would be idea in a power running offense. The problem is that the Steelers offense left the power out of its running game most of the year and since 2005. Because of Redman’s hard charging style, he is prone to injuries as well. Ankle and other nagging injuries hurt Redman’s effectiveness and opportunities to be the feature back.

I think that Redman would be a solid #2 for the Steelers a la Ahmad Bradshaw early in his career with the NY Giants. The Steelers will have to decide if there is enough of the pie to divide among their free agents and how high a priority Redman is for them. Redman must improve in reading his blocks and overall consistency running. However, I think that he would be an asset provided the OL steps up.

He has shown a knack for running tough in short yardage despite the OL many times not getting a push. He could be an intriguing possibility running behind a healthy Pouncey, DeCastro and Adams. I would resign Redman as well as drafting a back with a little more speed and wiggle.
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JustPlainNasty


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The knee jerk reaction is to get rid of Mendy. While I don't favor him, I would slow down to consider his age, the little amount of wear/# of carries over both his college & pro careers combined, his explosive capability vs other options and the fact that all of our running backs have run behind subpar offensive lines as well as in schemes/play calling that didn't necessarily contribute to the success of the run game.

I'm not making excuses for him as there are a number of things I would've like to have seen better from him, primarily the way he carries and protects the ball.

If he can be retained for a contract similar to that which Michael Bush received or even Ben Jarvis Green Ellis's recent contract I would say it is worth high consideration, otherwise if it calls for much more I would say that a running back should be given strong consideration in the draft in the second or third round such as Lacy, Ball or Taylor (concern with Taylor is that his speed is similar to our other options on the roster).
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JustPlainNasty


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey has no wiggle at all really. He may be one of the stiffest upright runners I've seen in some time, a least for a little guy. It's obvious on kickoffs as well. If he has a lane and hits it he has large gains averaged out by the lack of ability to make anyone miss which leads to the many very short returns he has.

Similarly in the passing and running game, especially the passing game, I'm not sure if I can think of even one time where he made somebody miss. Good running backs have the ability to allude defenders in one way or another thats what makes them good,be it either by breaking tackles, running people over or start stop redirecting or even just the aforementioned shoulder or hip "wiggle".

Rainey's ability is reliant upon hitting that seam and being faster than the majority of the defenders, unfortunately this is the pros and there are several others with similar speed supported by the fact that hasn't been able to break any of those returns.
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Steeler Hitman


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JustPlainNasty wrote:
The knee jerk reaction is to get rid of Mendy. While I don't favor him, I would slow down to consider his age, the little amount of wear/# of carries over both his college & pro careers combined, his explosive capability vs other options and the fact that all of our running backs have run behind subpar offensive lines as well as in schemes/play calling that didn't necessarily contribute to the success of the run game.

I'm not making excuses for him as there are a number of things I would've like to have seen better from him, primarily the way he carries and protects the ball.

If he can be retained for a contract similar to that which Michael Bush received or even Ben Jarvis Green Ellis's recent contract I would say it is worth high consideration, otherwise if it calls for much more I would say that a running back should be given strong consideration in the draft in the second or third round such as Lacy, Ball or Taylor (concern with Taylor is that his speed is similar to our other options on the roster).


JP Nasty,

I always appreciate your input and knowledge.

I would not mind Mendy at a cap friendly number. My concern is not his ability, but his attitude. He has repeatedly been in the doghouse for mental lapses on or off the field. It is probably time to move in another direction. There seems to be no leadership or chemistry with the offense from Mendy. The other RB's seem to respect him, but some of his actions do not display the maturity that you would expect from a fifth year RB. I think Mendy can grow and mature as a player, I am just not so sure it is here.

You are correct and I said it also, our OL has declined since 2005. Todd Haley started well and then faded down the stretch with his play calling and predictability. It is not all Mendy, but he shares a part of the baggage as well. The Steelers need his skillset, but not his mindset.
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Steeler Hitman


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JustPlainNasty wrote:
Rainey has no wiggle at all really.

I disagree with you here. He has shown it at times, but I think he had some problems adjusting to NFL speed. In college he could easily outrun just about everyone. Now OLB's who weigh 250 can run with him. He simply isn't three steps faster than everyone. The all around game is simpy faster. I'm not making excuses, just giving some prespective.

He may be one of the stiffest upright runners I've seen in some time, at least for a little guy. It's obvious on kickoffs as well. If he has a lane and hits it he has large gains averaged out by the lack of ability to make anyone miss which leads to the many very short returns he has.

I disagree with you here. Many of his short returns came from poor blocking and poor decisions on his part. He isn't having a 75 yard return followed by three 15 yard returns. He is consistently running the ball back in the 25 yard range. Rainey hasn't had a lot of room to operate catching screens and running the ball. He is smaller and I think some of the hits have caused him to run more conservative (stiff as you say).

Similarly in the passing and running game, especially the passing game, I'm not sure if I can think of even one time where he made somebody miss.

Ican't think of one time there weren't three or four guys around him wheen he ran or caught a pass. It is rare that he has been free in space. I know we would expect him to make some people miss, but he has rarely if ever gotten the chance to go from 0 to 60 in the running or passing game. That is because of play-calling and lack of execution by our OL. The fact that none of our Rb's got going (excep the Redskin, Giant and Bengal games

Good running backs have the ability to allude defenders in one way or another thats what makes them good,be it either by breaking tackles, running people over or start stop redirecting or even just the aforementioned shoulder or hip "wiggle".

Agreed, but Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Alfred Morris or Marshawn Lynch couldn't do what they did this season with our line. All of them have OL's that are solid in run blocking. He may have hit a few holes that our other backs missed, but having someone meet you at the QB 7 -8 times a game never helps to get your rushing attack going. You have to have space to run downhill or wiggle. Our OL simply did noy consistently generate a push for any of our backs.

Rainey's ability is reliant upon hitting that seam and being faster than the majority of the defenders, unfortunately this is the pros and there are several others with similar speed supported by the fact that hasn't been able to break any of those returns.


I agree with most of this and I made a similar comment earlier in my response. My only defense of Rainey not taking one to the houe is our poor special teams. Every decent punt or Ko return seemed like it was called back or fumbled. I believe ST is an attitude. Teams that are successful in this area instill this. The Steelers greatly regressed in this area, so it is hard to fault Rainey for lack of blocking and disipline by his other teamates.
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kysteeler


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly if we are going to bring back Mendy we have to give him at least 70% of the carries. I'm not a fan of this switching back and forth between backs.
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at23steelers


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post!! My opinion is that I don't trust Dwyer if we give him a huge contract. Kethy mentioned how he continued to keep gaining weight during the season, so he doesn't seem committed to staying in shape. Not to mention, he'd go out every 2 plays to catch his breath. Im a fan of Mendenhall but he has horrible vision and only gives a full effort rarely. I wouldn't object to not signing either one of them. Im probably a bigger Redman fan then most, but if you watch the Giants game, I think like you said he can be a solid #2 RB. We just need to find a feature back either as a FA or in the draft. I like Ball and Graham as someone mentioned.

I like the thought of a: Ball, Redman, Batch, Rainey running back group.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post! I totally agree with it.

IMO the Steelers will not retain Mendy. I see them drafting a Rb in round 3 or 4 replace him.

Guys on my board for Rb in the draft:

1. Monte Ball
2. Andre Ellington
3. Stephon Taylor
4. Le'Von Bell
5. Joseph Randle
6. Ray Graham
7. Kenjon Barner
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The concern I have with not signing him is that the only RB truly under contract at this time is Rainey, the rest are either RFA or UFA, none of which have any kind of significant track record of success.

I 'd be more comfortable going into the draft and season with Mendy, Rainey and whomever than Dwyer, Rainey and whomever. Otherwise we'd have to make a very high commitment to draft a RB. I am not opposed to grabbing Lacy or Ball in the 2nd, of course the 3rd would be more desirable.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who said anything about giving Dwyer a big contract? He's not gonna get a remotely big contract. 1-2 mil, give him the most carries (more snaps in practice may help the weight issue as well if you think about it) and see what he can do. He seems to me to have the best vision and has that Redman ability to turn losses into gains. He is also as good as any of our backs in pass protection which is surprising considering where he started. That vast improvement shows that he is willing to me.

He does need to keep an eye on his conditioning. I don't care how big his belly is if he can stay on the field, but atm he doesn't seem to be able to. That's the main issue, his actual playing ability behind a good line will be above the line.

I'm peaceful with letting Mendy go.

I don't care either way if Batch makes the team or not. He doesn't offer anything that out other backs can't do. Redman can block and catch as well as him or well enough and is a better runner.

Rainey rounds it out with someone who may or may not (more often may not) take it to the house. Maybe his role will expand. If he doesn't do more next year, I wouldn't be upset if he wasn't back the year after.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JustPlainNasty wrote:
The concern I have with not signing him is that the only RB truly under contract at this time is Rainey, the rest are either RFA or UFA, none of which have any kind of significant track record of success.

I 'd be more comfortable going into the draft and season with Mendy, Rainey and whomever than Dwyer, Rainey and whomever. Otherwise we'd have to make a very high commitment to draft a RB. I am not opposed to grabbing Lacy or Ball in the 2nd, of course the 3rd would be more desirable.
there will be upgrades in FA that are more dependable than Mendy and there will be many options in the draft the steels can take and develop. I really think its time for the parties to divorce, as it is with Mike Wallace and Willie Colon also.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kysteeler wrote:
Honestly if we are going to bring back Mendy we have to give him at least 70% of the carries. I'm not a fan of this switching back and forth between backs.


I agree. We have been more effective with a feature back.
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Steeler Hitman


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

turtle28 wrote:
Great post! I totally agree with it.

IMO the Steelers will not retain Mendy. I see them drafting a Rb in round 3 or 4 replace him.

Guys on my board for Rb in the draft:

1. Monte Ball
2. Andre Ellington
3. Stephon Taylor
4. Le'Von Bell
5. Joseph Randle
6. Ray Graham
7. Kenjon Barner


Thanks for the response. I think that they will look to grab one of the names you have listed at the moment. Of course their rankings will go up or down after the Combine and individual workouts.

PS. I would rank the RB's like this:

1. Mendy, but time for a divorce
2. Redman, He was hurt and I like his all around ability
3. Dwyer, Similar to Redmn, probably a more pure/instinctive RB than Redman
4. Rainey, special teams, speed and home run threat
5. Batch, solid at picking up blitz, but very average everywhere else in his game
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about trying to rank the RBs according to vision? I bet the list is pretty much the same as the list the Steelers use.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kysteeler wrote:
Honestly if we are going to bring back Mendy we have to give him at least 70% of the carries. I'm not a fan of this switching back and forth between backs.


If he were healthy this year, he would have gotten that many carries...

The switching of the backs was a combination of the Steelers not having a one good back that was healthy and the fact none of the Steelers running backs had the endurance to carry it a lot. Mendenhall was coming back from injury so they were overly careful with him, and when he was healthy to get the ball a lot, Tomlin wasn't dressing him.

Mendenhall is a true number 1 back, the others are not, they are good back ups and good change of pace backs, but that's a bout it... I'm not sure how Haley feels about runningbacks by committee as a system that can hold up, but I think either the Steelers sign Mendenhall or draft another back, I would not feel confident going forward with the current runningback situation.
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