Mark Kaboly | Tribune-Review
The Steelers just don’t allow teams to run the ball against them.
Check that: The Steelers used to not allow teams to run the ball against them.
Through the first quarter of the season, teams are seemingly running at will against the Steelers, averaging nearly 38 yards more per game than the entire Dick LeBeau-era (2004-present) combined.
The Steelers currently rank 25th against stopping the run giving up 122.8 yards per game. Since LeBeau’s return in 2004, the Steelers have never finished lower than eighth against the run. In 2010, they allowed an almost-record 62.8 yards per game on the ground.
So who’s to blame for their failures this year?
Nose tackle Steve McLendon didn’t necessarily say he is the main culprit, but he knows what it looks like from the outside being the new starter at the position that’s main job is to stop the run.
“I have been on a couple of teams here that have been ranked No. 1 or at least top five in the run,” McLendon said. “It’s bad. It’s bad. It makes me feel extremely bad because I don’t see much change besides me. That’s one of the toughest things. Just being able to watch Casey (Hampton) last year do it for so many years and I come in and my first year as a starter and seems like we can’t stop the run.”
Make no mistake about it, McLendon isn’t the one to blame.
The reason why the Steelers are so poor statistically against the run is because of big plays – 55 yards by Matt Forte and 60 yards by Adrian Peterson – that occurred by missed tackles that didn’t include McLendon.
If you take those two plays away and the Steelers are averaging 94 yards per game, which would rank them seventh in the NFL.
“I am not really blaming myself but I am taking ownership that I have to play better,” McLendon said. “I just have to grow up and play the game I am capable of playing.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that the arrow is pointing up when it comes to McLendon.
“He’s had some positive plays and I think he’s had some plays that he’d like back, like all of us,” Tomlin said. “I like where he is. We expect him to continue to grow and get better into the position. The ar