Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bettis + Kevin Green Finalists In Pro Football Hall of Fame; Steelers Cut Chris Rainey; View From The Stands: Ron Cammarata

Jerome Bettis + Kevin Green: 2013 Hall of Fame Finalists

NFL Hall of Fame announced Jerome Bettis and Kevin Green as finalists in the 2013 NFL Hall of Fame.

Bettis was the Steelers leading rusher for a total of five years. He amassed 50 100-yard games with the Steelers.  He rushed for a total of 10,571 yards in his Steeler career and 13,662 total career yards (Bettis played for the LA Rams earlier in his career).

Kevin Green played linebacker and defensive end with the Steelers from 1993-1995. He also played for the LA Rams, Carolina Panthers and Forty-Niners.

Steelers Waive Rainey

Steelers cut rookies running back Chris Rainey after his arrest on a battery charge in Gainesville, FL.  According to police reports, Rainey got into an argument with his girlfriend about his cellphone. Witnesses reported Rainey allegedly slapped his girlfriend as he tried to pull her out of his car.

Rainey was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft.

From The Stands
Ron Cammarata
Section 110, Row CC-Seat 9

The best two days of the NFL season is arguably wild card weekend. The games aren't necessarily the high scoring events that we have come accustomed to during the regular season, and the balance displayed by these better teams comes to light.

In the playoffs, even teams that we don't associate as running teams find that very important element. Look at the Saturday night game with the Packers and Vikings. The Packers all season never established, or cared to run the ball with any great efficiency...but in the playoffs they ran the rookie back Harris with a lot of consistency.

In the earlier Saturday game between the Texans and Bengals, Mike Mayock (in my opinion the best TV analyst in the business), made an excellent point that he reiterated often throughout the broadcast. In reference to the Texans offense he claimed that in reviewing film of their entire season, that Matt Schaub was a much better quarterback (and, in turn, the offense was better) when Schaub was under center running a play/action style offense than standing in the shotgun. The Texans zone-blocking schemes of their offensive line lends itself to a run first team approach more so than the pocket protection needed for success in the shotgun. Recognizing Mayock's repeated comments make me think of exactly our own offensive trouble that plagued the Steelers propensity to run the shotgun in recent years, no matter Arians or Haley. In a recent article in the Tribune Review, it was pointed out that the Steelers passed the ball 162 more plays this season than they ran the football. Of course, down and distance, along with other contributing factors dictate pass over run...and that's OK. But in the post-Bettis era of Steelers football, it is obvious that this team is all about the quarterback and what and how the quarterback wants in conducting the offense.

We have heard repeatedly that Ben likes the shotgun, because he can keep the flow of the play in front of him...but that doesn't mean that it is the best approach for the rest of the team's offense.  An offensive line that can pass block out of the shotgun with great success is usually a line with a lot of cohesion and consistency like the Patriots or Broncos. The Steelers 2012 offensive line was a continual work in progress based on injuries and patch-worked all season. In addition, the Monday morning excuse after many losses in the Big Ben era is that the opposition shut down the run...when in reality we chose to stop trying to run.  Any time a team runs the ball less than twenty carries in a 60 minute game when the score is still a philosophical choice. On first down we often saw bubble screens (a Ben favorite) and other college intramural looking formations for the entire series, with three and out results. How about those lame draw plays out of the you recall any of those run plays this year producing a significant gainer on the ground? In 2009, (the last time we did not make the playoffs), out of the shotgun/empty set Ben threw five interceptions in seven of our losses, all on first down in the opponents red zone.

We are fortunate to have a QB with Ben's ability to extend the play based on his sheer size and grittiness, but he does not have the ball release mechanism of a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and that is OK. But in 2013, our offense needs to put our quarterback under center and use the shotgun when down and distance dictates...not as our primary offensive formation like it was in 2012.

Leave you with with the first two plays of OT with the Cowboys. Win the coin toss, take the ball on offense: first play out of the shotgun, ball thrown in the dirt...second play out of the shotgun, interception...all the time in the world to move the ball in a timely manner to kick a field goal and walk away with a win and regain some momentum going into the important Bengals game. After watching the Bengals (also never tried establishing a run game) against the Texans, it was evident that the Steelers could have and would have given a better performance in that wild card weekend, and may have even pulled out a win---strictly conjecture...a view from the stands.