Steelers film session: Revolving door at running back
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that it would depend on who had the “hot hand” when it came to which of his three running backs would be on the field.
So much for that.
With Rashard Mendenhall back in the starting lineup against Baltimore, it gave the Steelers three healthy running backs, including Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, for one of the few times this year.
So, how did the Steelers use their running backs?
Well, the film said there was very limited rhyme or reason.
The Steelers rushed for 134 yards on 27 carries against the Ravens with Dwyer leading the way with 55 yards on 12 carries, followed by Mendenhall with 33 yards on 11 carries.
No running back played more than four consecutive snaps, regardless if they carried the ball or not; no back carried the ball more than three times in a row before another got a carry, and that came over three series by Dwyer in the second quarter.
Four of the five snaps Redman played came on third down before he suffered a concussion in the second quarter and did not return.
Most of Mendenhall's work came on first down, where he played 17 snaps. By contrast, Mendenhall played only one of 17 third-down snaps.
Dwyer was more versatile as he had 10 plays on first, 11 on second, 10 on third and one on fourth down.
• Keenan Lewis and Ike Taylor aren't going to be mentioned among the best cornerback duos in the NFL, but their play against the Ravens should have them in the conversation. Taylor put together a fifth straight solid game and shut down Baltimore's best receiver, Torrey Smith. Taylor didn't allow Smith a catch on six targets. For the game, Taylor gave up only a 5-yard catch to Ray Rice. As for Lewis, he allowed five straight catches to Anquan Boldin before tackling him for a 3-yard loss followed with four consecutive incompletions, including a pair of pass defenses. Lewis allowed seven catches for only 39 yards.
• Todd Haley promised to play to Byron Leftwich's strengths, and that's what he did against the Ravens by allowing the strong-armed quarterback to throw the ball down the field with more frequency. Leftwich attempted 11 passes of 20 yards or longer down the field and completed four of them. That makes 13 attempts from that distance in the six quarters Leftwich has played. In 34 quarters for Ben Roethlisberger, he attempted 31 passes of 20 yards or longer, completing seven.
• The key play in the Steelers' 13-10 loss to Baltimore on Sunday night was Jacoby Jones' 63-yard punt return for a touchdown — the Ravens' only touchdown of the game. But that play could have easily been called back because of a block in the back. Although it was a subtle push by Baltimore's Josh Bynes, it was a push that affected David Paulson enough to not make the tackle or, at least, disrupt or slow down Jones in order for somebody else to make the tackle.
• Fullback Will Johnson took part in 32 of the Steelers' 72 snaps on offense, but the first-year player out of West Virginia spent more time as the H-back than at fullback. Johnson lined up at the H-back position 17 times compared to the fullback position 15 times. Johnson was used on a number of occasions to crack-back block on a linebacker or defensive end on the opposite end of the formation.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers accomplish mission to get younger, faster on defense
- Bubble players get last chance to impress Steelers
- In reworking contract, Steelers WR Brown gets hefty pay raise
- Steelers running back eager to prove he can help bridge gap to Bell
- Steelers trying to get missing defensive pieces on field
- RB Williams believes he’s making seamless transition to Steelers
- Steelers notebook: New kicker Scobee relishes opportunity
- Steelers’ Tomlin disappointed by Bryant suspension
- Rossi: Beleaguered Steelers need MVP from Big Ben
- Steelers won’t change contract policy for Antonio Brown