The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has averaged 4 yards per carry so far this season and while that’s a nice start, offensive coordinator Todd Haley knows it can get even better and especially now that running back Le’Veon Bell has a few games under his belt since returning from his three-game suspension.
“Yeah, I think we’ve got a chance at being really good running the football,” Haley told Bob Labriola during his weekly interview on Steelers Nation Radio. “We’re a balanced attack. We throw the ball a bunch because it’s an area of strength for us, but I think the key for us is number one, do what you need to do to win, but when you have the ability to do both, I think that gives you a chance to be really good.”
There is, however, one area that Haley would specifically like to see his offense improve in moving forward when they do run the football.
“Last week we didn’t run it a lot different than we had run it, we just lacked the explosive play or two and really, that’s what we’re hunting for,” Haley said. “When the season started, I wanted to have a nice handful of 40-plus runs and I think if we do that, have an explosive run, at least one a game, then we’ve got a chance to be really good.”
So far this season, the Steelers have only had one run go for 20 yards are more and that happened in the Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs when Bell ran 44 yards off the left side of the offensive line.
As far as runs of 10 yards or more so far this season, the Steelers offense has registered 11 of those through their first five games with Bell and fellow running back DeAngelo Williams having five a piece
So, what’s the secret of getting explosive run in the NFL?
“It’s the perimeter blocking,” Haley said. “It comes down to the receivers, generally, and them getting their job done. A lot of runs don’t make it to that perimeter so receivers have a tendency to relax and think this one isn’t coming out, either. And then all of sudden, boom, it’s out and to the second level and you’re out of position. So, its keeping those guys focused on their job when we’re handing the football off, which is block the perimeter defenders because if you get those blocks, those are usually your touchdown runs.”
On Sunday, the Steelers offense will face a Miami Dolphins defense that has given up an average of 150.8 yards rushing in their first five games of the season. Additionally, the Miami defense has already given up 21 runs of 10 yards or more so far this season and that’s the second-most in the league.
In short, Bell is expected to have some success Sunday when it comes to him potentially breaking off a few long runs against the Dolphins and especially if the wide receivers do their job on the perimeter.