The hallmark of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a blue-collar approach to the game on both sides of the ball. They play hard on defense and the pound the ball on offense. While the former has been quasi-effective this season, the latter has been a little bit of an issue. Rashard Mendenhall has not been the battering ram at running back that was expected of him and his lack of performance is starting to become an issue.
Mendenhall's yards per carry have gone down in each game played this year; starting at 3.8 in the loss to Baltimore, then just 3.5 against lowly Seattle, and culminating with an abysmal 2.1 yard average against the lowly Colts defense. Mendenhall has just 148 yards on 49 carries this year and just one touchdown. It seems like the offensive line issues that have led to more pressure on Ben Roethlisberger this year are also harming the run game. Some of that may be injuries to the offensive line, writes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but the offensive like knows they have to play better in the run game.
"It's going to get scary in the film meeting with Coach Kugs," said (Trai) Essex, who entered the game Sunday night at right tackle for injured Marcus Gilbert in the third quarter. "Even though we won, we didn't play up to our caliber. We have to get Rashard those holes. Rashard and Isaac, they run hard, we just have to give them more opportunities. We're one block off pretty much every time. We just have to get more chemistry up front."
If the Steelers want to start playing better football, it starts with being able to run the ball more effectively.