Steelers Running Game Off To Worst Post Merger Start Though Five Games

Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II said after the 2009 season that he and head coach Mike Tomlin agreed that moving forward the offense needed to run the football better.

“I think Mike and I certainly agreed coming off the season that we need to run the ball more consistently to get to where we want to get to,” Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette back in January of 2010. “So that\’s part of the thinking in the offseason: We need to figure out how to get better running the football.”

In 2010 the offense finished the season ranked 18th in the league with a 4.08 yards per carry average and they followed that up by finishing 11th in the league last season with a slightly better 4.38 yards per carry average.

Five games into the season you have to wonder what Rooney II thinks about the offense being ranked dead last in the league with a 2.97 per carry average after totaling just 374 yards on the ground so far.

Just how bad are those numbers for the Steelers organization? It is the worst five game start the team has had post the merger. That\’s 43 seasons.

In 2003 the Steelers offense had rushed for 415 yards on 131 carries through the first five games for a 3.17 yards per carry average. That team, like the 2012 team, sported a 2-3 record after five games. The 126 rushing attempts that the Steelers have through the first five games is the second lowest amount of attempts the team has had since the merger in addition.

The return of running back Rashard Mendenhall to the lineup against the Philadelphia Eagles seemed to had spark the running game, but that spark was quickly extinguished Thursday night in Nashville as the team rushed for just 56 yards on 22 carries. 14 of those yards came via a run by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, so in essence the running backs combined for 42 yards on 21 carries. I don\’t need a calculator to figure out that\’s a 2.0 yards per carry for the running backs. Roethlisberger also has 40 of 374 rushing yards this season.

Something needs to change and it needs to change fast as the team prepares to take on the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night. That change will likely have to take place without two starting lineman in addition as center Maurkice Pouncey and tackle Marcus Gilbert are both expected to miss the game due to injuries. To make matters worse, Mendenhall and Isaac Redman are currently not 100% after both failed to finish the game against the Tennessee Titans because of injuries.

Looking back at the comments Rooney II made back in 2010, you know that he has already had a thing or two to say to both Tomlin and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley this past week and I bet the words he used this time around didn\’t include, “we need to”. Those words have likely now been replaced with, “you better”.

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