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Running backs will be in spotlight Sunday


One streak will depend on another Sunday when Jacksonville visits Heinz Field.
The Jaguars come into the 1 p.m. game an odd combination of heavy underdog and Steelers nemesis.
Jacksonville has won the last three games it has played at Heinz Field, dating back to 2005. For that streak to continue, the Jaguars need Maurice Jones-Drew to exceed 80 rushing yards for a sixth consecutive game.
If Jones-Drew can became the third back to go over 100 yards this season against the Steelers and score a couple of times the Jaguars have a chance of pulling the upset.
Short but stout, Jones-Drew is reminiscent of Baltimore’s Ray Rice with his stature and all-around skills.
“But (Jones-Drew) has his own style,” Steelers free safety Ryan Clark said, after agreeing that the two backs are similar. “I think he’s a little bit tougher than Ray Rice. Ray Rice has a little more scatback in him than Jones-Drew does.”
The Steelers’ running backs also bear watching Sunday.
Rashard Mendenhall will start, and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Thursday that the fourth-year veteran is still the Steelers’ feature back. But Arians also left a little wiggle room when it comes to the division of labor between Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, saying that that Steelers wouldn’t “overwork” the former since he is returning from a hamstring injury.
Here is my take on the situation at running back: Redman has earned more carries, but why are some fans so quick to want to dump Mendenhall? He has played all of four games this season.
The same guy that some have soured on helped carry the Steelers’ offense the first four games last season while Ben Roethlisberger was out. And Mendenhall quietly had one of the better seasons in Steelers history by a running back.
What he has done this season -– or what he hasn’t done -– is not enough of a sample size for me to say that the Steelers need a major shake-up at running back.

— Scott Brown



  1. Carol says:

    Awhile back D.K. said the Steelers didn’t get old in a few months. Now he writes that this is their swan swong. So which is it? I hate when columnists turn into windsocks!

  2. David says:

    I know Rashard has his followers, ( not me ), but why sit what works, its like if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

  3. David says:

    Isaac Redman and Johnathan Dwyer ate what is working for the ground game, if I were close enough to the stadium, is stand in a public space and jims a banner up that reads,” keep Mendenhalk on the bench “

  4. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    It looks to us fans like Redman gets through holes fast, runs hard, pushes piles and falls forward, and it looks like Mendenhall avoids the skinny hole, avoids contact and goes down easy.

    But, he has a track record and has produced in the past. Maybe the holes haven’t been there for him as much as for Redman. It’s hard to tell from the perspective offered by the television cameras.

    So give Mendenhall another chance. Having said that, if the trends continue, then either Redman and Dwyer take over the RB role or it’s another case BA’s stubbornitis.

    One more game–maybe two–for Mendenhall to put up or sit down.

  5. Mark Pitcavage says:

    Except Mendenhall’s season last year, though it was not bad, was not really that great. Read this year’s Football Outsider’s Almanac’s entry on his performance and it is not really that impressive, especially considering the number of carries he had.

    Personally, I also don’t care for the number of no-yard and negative yard carries he gets, compared to Isaac Redman, who almost always seems to be able to get at least a bit of positive yardage.

  6. David says:

    3 games in, its a trend for mendenhall, and you are right, mendenhall can’t see the holes or blocks that redman can, that said, Redman has vision that mendenhall don’t, chances! how many have been given to redman before he got the picture,,,, 1, his only chance and he is flying with it…. Here we go Reman, here we go….. sit mendenhall, start the back that is giving us the best chance on the ground and we have playoffs on the horizon, play mendenhall and give him multiple chances, and watch all our playoff asperations disappear……

  7. David says:

    this is a 16 game legue, not a 162, or 82 game league, so trends in the NFL start @ 3 games, Mendenhall to this point don’t even have 300 yards, he is on pace for 650 yards, give or take a few, so lets not kid ourselves that mendenhall needs a chance, at this point in his career he should be a savy veteran and one that always falls forward or at least go down before taking a 3 or 4 yard loss, you might argue that roethlisberger does the same thing, but this is it with Ben, he knows how to come back the next play and get us yards, and when he runs the ball, he always dives forward, no one on here can ever say that Ben has taking a slide, Bens yards are positve yards and he doesn’t get shaken on bad plays or broken plays, where we all see mendenhall get shook, he is more likly to go down after a bad play instead of falling forward and maybe getting hit, and the word hit being hit or doing the hitting are all in the job description… this ain’t flag football, tho there are some who might thing otherwise….

  8. Jopa-n says:

    Questions abound Scott:

    Why is it that allowing Redman more carries and Mendenhall less such a travesty?

    Why do some refuse to look at the difference in these two backs and what they mean to a challenged line vs. a stud line?

    Why do backs get all the credit when they gain yardage but never the blame when they make bad choices and get thrown for a loss?

    If the line creates a hole that the back easily gets through, and then gets tackled by the first player he meets up with, resulting in a nice gain, why do we give all the credit to the RB when all he did was carry out his job?

    If a back has no hole to run through and has to evade tacklers just to get a small gain, why can’t the fact that the back made a good play out of possible disaster be appreciated?

    How does 2nd and 13 effect an offense vs. 2nd and 9 or 10?

    Why is it that Tomlin says he needs to see it on tape, but so many simply make judgments on after game totals?

    If one back runs for -3, -2 and 15, and another runs for 0, 2, and 7, is the first back more effective than the second because he has run for more total yards?

  9. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Yards per carry are important. Yards for loss are important. Long gains are important. The difference between Redman and Mendenhall is about drive and desire perr carry. We watch the games twenty or more strong. All of us are lifelong Steelers fans going back to Chuck Noll’s first year or before. When Redman carries, it’s “OOh!” and “Yeah!” from all of us. When Mendenhall carries, It’s “Aw, c’mon!” It’s a gut reaction. We want and expect a Steelers back to run like Redman runs. Even if the yards per carry were even or in Mendenhall’s favor (they are not–Redman has a decided advantage!) Redman’s style psyches up the fans and I suspect his teammates as well. And it psyches out the opponents when he bulls them over, even if for only a yard or two. There is more going on here than statistics.

    All I can say is: Hey, Ike Redman–carpe diem, baby, seize the day!

    “If you will it, it will be so!” *

    *Walter, in The Big Lebowski

  10. David says:

    I have not been a fan of Rashard since he came to Pittsburgh, after watching him fumble ALOT, is when I knew the day for him to not be a Steelers couldn’t come fast enough, so I am not jumping off his wagon cause I have never been on it, for some to say look at his numbers from a year ago, well, whoa, lets look, hey Im impressed, and surprised, cause thats 1 year, 1 season, nothing before that season, and this year also, he won’t get a thousand yards this year, nor 13 td’s. wonder what the cry for Rashard will be next year when i am hearing the same, give him a chance, its only 4 games into the season,,,,

  11. Chuck H says:

    I say, go with what’s working. Why bench a player or players after they have had a good game? Redman and Dwyer were super last week. They gave the Steelers their dominant run offense back in a hurry. When Mendenhall is in the game, we don’t have that reliable run game, because one out of two times, he is either stopped for no-gain or
    loses 2 or 3 yards and creates a second or third and long situation. One game doesn’t proove anything, but why change what is working now?

  12. frank says:

    Defenders consistently get under Mende’s shoulder pads. he hardly ever drives a defender back on contact or falls forward for those few extra yards. he does not have heart or mental toughness from what I am seeing. As a runner, letting defenders get lower than you is unexceptable, especially with the frequency that it happens to Mende. bench him and play Redman till Mende decides to “run tough”

  13. John Mc says:

    I agree that Mendenhall should be benched.He dances to much and looks indecisive when it comes to hitting holes.Redman reminds me of power Steeler football of old.It is exciting to see this guy run.He also doesn’t seem to have fumbling issues that Mendenhall has.It is really clear it seems that we wasted a first round pick.If they continue to give this guy chance after chance to prove his worth that would be a great waste of a great team.Anyone remember all those wasted Kordell years?

  14. David says:

    after all these years since Barry Sanders abrupt retirement, we now learn the reason for it, the one person who could have legitamently passed Walter Paytons rushing record with one ( 1 ) team simply lost the fire ……. I respect Barry for what he did, it is after all a mans choice to retire when he deems its the right time ( Farve ) ….. so with all that it is done, but I thought it was more than that.

    Emmit Smith is the rushing king, but he has that asterick by his name in my book as having to do it with a second team late in his career….. so to me, Walter Payton is number one with the thought of what might have been had Barry played another 4 to 7 years… ask the owl, ” the world may never know”

  15. David says:

    oh, and as a Steelers fan showing some respect for Detroit, ” How Bout Dem LIONS”…………….

  16. rich says:

    Talent wise Mendy is the best of the 3 RBs.
    Redman seems to have the most heart and the will to to be the best he can be.
    Dwyer has the talent but not the off season work ethic.

  17. David says:

    Talent means nothing if you don’t display or showcase it….. Redman has talent and heart, plus drive and the will to succeed.
    and off season work ethics is hard to determine unless you are personally with the individual, sorry rich, but on all three fronts you failed to prove anything you just spewed…. I will take a Redman over a Mendenhall any day on Sundays and I will have more positive yards then your less then talented back…..

  18. Carol says:

    I just hope if the Jags commit three holding penalties on the same play that aren’t called, our management complains about it publicly. We’re too soft!

  19. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    watching jags/steelers. this is the kind of game that the steelers lose. it should have been 30-0 in the first half. is anyone satisfied with this? bruce arians is an idiot.

    mendenhall runs for 60 yards, and who gets the carry on the next play? mendenhall. bruce arians is an idiot.

    what’s with all of the deep balls? oh, BA is killing drives.

    why didn’t tomlin challenge that catch in the first half when the jags receiver had one foot in bounds and the other ffoot five yards out of bounds? not BA’s fault but someone else is an idiot.

    suisham has got to go. sorry, bye, bye.

    this game now in the second half is a travesty.

    it is disgusting.

    changes must be made.


  20. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    you know what? maybe the steelers need to lose this game. maybe they need to have a terrrible year. maybe that is the only thing that will make some stubborn stupid people change things.

  21. David says:

    The Steelers don’t seem to want this game too bad, maybe they have plans for a bbq afterwards. Hmmmm hope I’m invited.

  22. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    big ben fumble. bad punt. steelers will lose this game. BA squandered the first half. BA must go.

  23. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    BA must go.

  24. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    BA, get out.

  25. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    you suck, BA.

  26. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    can we get those dope smoking occupy this and that a-holes to protest BA?

  27. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Dear Bruce:

    The problem with stupid people is that they would have to get smarter in order to realize that they were stupid. We don’t have time for that. Nobody does, as that would take an eternity for you, BA. So, we are telling you, now pay attention and please try to understand this: Bruce Arians, you are a stupid person. You are a terrible offensive coordinator. Can you possibly understand this? Just go. Please.

  28. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Ben sacked on 3rd. Here we go.

  29. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    If the Steelers win this, will Dick LeBeau please kick BA’s A–?

  30. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Will someone please do it?

  31. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Steelers win. If Tomlin gives that “we don’t care about style points, a win is a win” speech I am going to go ballistic. This was pathetic! I have never had a worse experience watching a Steelers win. No, I have never had a worse experience watching a Steelers game. It is because this team has incredible talent and they suck on offense. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be Bruce Arians?

  32. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Hello Bruce Arians. Did you get that mesage about how stupid you are? If so, could you read it?

  33. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Bruce Arians! You have just won an all expenses paid vacation to beautiful Afghanistan! To get you prize, just start walking east! Don’t worry about that ocean, just walk under the water.

  34. Rick says:

    We didn’t lose, thank goodness.
    Blame Ben for not so good throws from Q2 midway on.
    If long balls work, then BA is genius, but of course since they didn’t he is bad guy – still, he didn’t throw the passes. Ah well.
    No, I am not happy about the way the game played out cause we certainly should have won 28 or 35 to 3. At least.
    Why let Mendenhall try for the TD, cause he put us at that spot. But on 1st my choice was still play action, then let Mendy run after he catches his breath. Or bring in Redman and play action – as Jags would be (were) looking for run.
    Looks like special teams needs a refresher course. Grr.
    Kudos to defense, on field a lot, playing against a tough back. At least no scoring drive for their first drive.

  35. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    just saw the patriots beat the ‘boys on a final drive. gee whiz they sure are lucky. their offensive play calling sure is dumb. just like the steelers offensive play calling. I can’t wait until the pats play the steelers in pittsburgh. it should be a real even matchup. go, BA, go!

  36. Carol says:

    Any time our, ahem, head coach wants to call out a time-out to get the ball back in the final minute of the first half is fine with me.

  37. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    OK, listen. I left PGH in ’75 and havn’t been back since. Still, I monitor the Steelers online, on radio, on TV and so on, every day! And I can tell you that no journalist from PGH, that is the Trib, the Gazette, the Bleacher Report, etc., etc., etc., no one even questions Bruce Arians, let alone criticizes him. What the hell is going on with PGH sports journalism? Are they watching the same games that we are? We have had it with BA and we have had it with PGH sports coverage! The only reporter whon has the guts or the brains to criticise anything is Smizek from the Gazette. Hey, Trib people–get with it! What , are you paid off to toe the line? Are you crazy? BA is a joke, and this season will be wasted because of him.

    Can you please offer at least some constructive criticism of the offensive playcalling? That is, if you are allowed to and you have the ability to do so.

  38. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Dear Lord, I apologize for that. My special lady friend just admonished me for being old and out of fashion. I had a journalism class in college around 1980, and we were encouraged to criticize God, country and family. Silly me, I thought journalists were allowed to criticize anything. You go, Trib journalists, you go!

  39. Paul Raspa says:

    So who do you replace Arians with? Leave the guy alone….. Bottom line is we r 4-2 … yes we need to improve but the Line Looks better — The D looks Better — the RB position looks better —–
    Who would you bring in ? Instead of Bashing the guy — Tell us what you would do differently…
    Anyone that reads my blog knows I am Especially critical on the O-Line and Kugler but for Pete’s Sake — we r 4-2 and in pretty good shape!!! You must play fantasy !!!
    Ben overthrew Sanders twice and looked shaky in the 2nd 1/2 — Not B/A’s fault…
    I think Mike Wallace should run crossing patterns /post paatterns /Fly patterns –to tire the opposing D –Do u even know what those patterns are?? Why do you bash the guy? Have u ever met him? What would you say if you did? And I SURE HOPE YOU KNOW WHO I AM TALKING TOO!!!!

  40. Carl says:

    Dude, Eyeheart, we won man. relax….

  41. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Calling Brad Childress…

  42. David says:

    Don’t call brad childress, he is not a Steelers type coach. Sorry.

  43. David says:

    It’s ashame mendenhall has to watch other backs do better then him for it to turn a switch on for him. He gets too comfortable knowing he is The guy, which makes me more critical if him. He averaged in yards last year what he need to go over a thousand, he isn’t a Jerome bettis that’s for sure.

  44. Mr. Cynical says:

    Posluszny is awesome! I wish the Steelers had him. We won that is all that matters. Our defense is getting better (although we have played young inexperienced QB’s as of late) but our offense is still a concern. We should be scoring 30 points a game! I understand the wind played a major factor in the game but our offense couldn’t move the ball in the second half.

    Posluszny for president!

  45. BAmustgo says:

    Eyeheartbrucearians I do agree with you! I’ve been saying for the past 3 years that BA needs to go! I remember when he was with the Browns. Now he’s with the Steelers–isn’t that an oxy-moron!

  46. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Calling Ken Anderson…

    Matt Cavenaugh, are you out there?

  47. David says:

    Ken Anderson is out there, I saw him the other day toting a walking cane lol. Cavanaugh, really hmmm

  48. David says:

    yes, I would definitly invite Mendenhall to be the next speaker at the next world trade center memorial………….

  49. Mr.Cynical says: called for the firing of BA back in 09! Check out link below. Sorry Steelers nation–he sucks!

  50. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    After the 68 yard run by Mendenhall, and without any rest by timeout, Mendenhall’s number gets called for a run on the very next play, and he gets stuffed. Tomlin said in postgame that he approved, but how do you call that play? But wait, it gets better.

    Same series, third and goal from about the one, and BA calls a five receiver set with an empty backfield. The Jags now know that there is absolutely no threat of a run, and they can commit to the pass–on the shortest fiel possible, no less–the end zone!

    Now someone has to explain to us the reasoning for that. BA did it last year, and was roundly criticized for it. We thought that he got the message that it is a bonehead call, but no. He does it again, and the Jags defend the pass.

    I am going to ask every Trib and Gazette sports writer to explain that call, or for them to get BA’s explanation for the call.

    My money says that they won’t answer, or even take the question.

    So you all read their blogs and chats and see if they do or not.

    Does anyone monitoring this have any explanation for the call? If so, please post it before the Mill turns over the story.

    I will not let this rest. I want an answer.

  51. K2 says:

    Big Ben + BA = 0 when it comes to football acumen.

    Acumen = quickness > accuracy > keenness > judgement > insight – Not sure, but by diffinition they both might be the problem….. I’d like to add NO creativity (???).

    I’m not a fan of either BB or BA…. Maybe they get hot when it counts!

  52. David says:

    @eyeheart, the answer is simple as to why they did a 5 reciever set on the 1 with an empty backfield, they wanted the jags to think run and then pass it, but the jags picked up on what the offense was doing and dropped the run coverage so they can play the pass. Thus BW was outwitted.

  53. David says:

    The jags defense wad all hudked and one looked over at the Steelers sideline and saw all 3 running backs and said look, this play is a pass cause all thier running backs are over on the sideline, and the other said to him, good eye lombronski,,,

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