Injuries to running back Le’Veon Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey early in the season forced the Steelers to put the scheme on the back burner.
Even though it wasn’t used after the first week, it was never removed from the playbook.
“We had it in, that’s the thing,” guard Ramon Foster told me on my TribLive Radio Show on Monday. “The same amount we have in this year was the same amount we had in last year. It was a little more publicized last year.”
Pouncey’s back, Bell’s healthy and the Steelers brought in offensive line coach Mike Munchak putting everything in place for the return of the outside zone this year … well, at least in theory.
“We are going to do it and get outside and run but it is also going to help the inside run,” Foster said. “You have to keep the defense honest. If you try to pound down guys the entire game, they get in tune with that you are doing. The outside zone keeps them honest. Sometimes we catch defenses off guard, too. We have to perfect it and get the little things taken care of in perfecting the run but I think it will be a tool that we use.”
It could be a welcome and much-needed addition to the offense.
The Steelers — typically a power and inside zone running team — finished with their fewest rushing yards (1,383) in a full season since the NFL adopted the 16-game schedule in 1978. They haven’t been a top-10 rushing team since 2007.
Foster said this year will be different.
“No excuses anymore,” Foster said.