Sure hope you were sitting down before you read that headline. In case you haven’t paid attention over the last two months, no one has been worse at running the ball than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner stated the obvious in speaking to reporters Thursday.
“I think we’ve got do a better job of being more consistent and efficient in our runs,” Fichtner said via a team transcript.
The Steelers run game ranks among the worst in football in most categories. 31st in rushing yards, tied 30th in yards per carry, and tied for 22nd in touchdowns. The only reason why they’re not last in every category is from their success over their first four games, rushing for over 100 yards in each of those contests. Since, the run game has gone into the tank. They’re averaging just 3.1 YPC and in five of their last nine games, been held under 50 yards. It’s the first time in Steelers’ history they’ve had five games under 50 yards in one season.
Fichtner’s comments were reflecting on a bigger-picture question about the need to add more balance to the offense. He recognized the need for a stronger run game but said he was content to let Ben Roethlisberger be the straw who stirs the drink.
“I think you are always wanting to be as diverse as possible. I would shy away from wanting to take too much out of Ben’s hands. He is the most experienced and quite honestly our best football player. He has a lot of insight into all levels of the game.”
Fichtner went on to say Roethlisberger has been extremely coachable this season as the offense searches for answers to get back on track. After setting a franchise record with 26+ points in each of their first ten games, they’ve been held under 20 in their past three.
“He’s been unbelievably—wants to be coached, comes in with ideas. He studies overnight. He texts us a bunch of different things that he likes to do and thinks about doing, that type of thing.”
After the Ravens’ game, Fichtner told the story of Roethlisberger texting him late that night to discuss Washington’s defense and what he saw on film. Roethlisberger is the veteran of a young group of skill players, especially at receiver, and is as much a players-coach as any QB in football.
Now, Fichtner’s job is to be the coach of the run game. He and offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett – the de facto run game coordinator – need to get the run game going again. At this point, they’ve inspired little hope things will be fixed. But at the risk of jinxing things, it’s hard to get any worse.