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The Pittsburgh Steelers should not give up on Mendenhall just yet!


There is a famous saying in football that no one is better liked on a team than the No. 2 quarterback. For the Steelers, right now that saying holds true at the running back position.

You can hear the clamoring all over town for the Steelers to start running back Isaac Redman over Rashard Mendenhall this weekend. Mendenhall is suffering from a tweaked hamstring, which may sideline the Steeler’s starter for this week anyway, but as the season rolls along, I think it is ludicrous to propose that Redman get the starting nod over Mendenhall.

I am very aware that the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, and while looking at the two running backs comparatively, one would think it would be a no brainer. Mendenhall is sporting a lack-luster 3.0 yards per carry ratio, while Redman has earned a very respectable 4.9-yard average.

While watching the two backs perform this season, it seems as though Mendenhall has been hesitant to hit the “holes” the Steeler’s offensive line has opened, while Redman has shown the ability to get north to south extremely quickly and attack the line of scrimmage. Many people complain that Mendenhall likes to dance around east to west, and given the state of the offensive line, that type of running will definitely not work.

All of these observations from the young season have led to a Redman movement, but I propose the Steelers stay with Mendenhall for no other reason than he is the better back.

Before this season started, most people….myself included, had predicted that Mendenhall could possibly run for more than 1,500 yards within the Steelers “high powered offense.” I still believe that runner is within Mendenhall, and while it may have been dormant through the fist couple weeks, it can return.

As maligned as the O-line has been this season, I think the Steelers will find a way to make it work. As the season progresses, the O-line will become a more cohesive unit, which will allow for more running room for Mendenhall and increased stats. While Mendenhall’s tendency to bounce the ball to the outside instead of attacking the line of scrimmage has gotten him into hot water this season, it is also what makes him such a dangerous back, and gives him the ability to break a huge play every snap.

Those who think that Redman would do a better job than Mendenhall within this Steelers offense right now are simply trying to solve a huge problem with a little duct tape.

Sure, I will say that Redman was ripping off some pretty impressive runs toward the end of last weeks game against the Texans. But you also have to look at the situation of the game. Redman got his playing time late in the game when the Steelers were trailing by seven. The Steelers had a long way to drive down the field with little time left on the clock. The Texans were all but begging the Steelers to run the ball and milk the clock, because everyone watching the game knew the Steelers were not going to be able to drop back and throw the ball given the fact the O-line couldn’t protect Big Ben for more than 1 second.

The Texans were playing an aggressive prevent defense, which allowed for Redman to find bigger holes to run through. Another reason why making Redman the official No. 1 back is not the move, is because as of now teams do not game plan to stop Redman. His is a bruising back who spells Mendenhall during games, and teams simply do not have him on their radar. If Redman was promoted to starter, teams would have to game plan around him, which will call for possibly putting nine men in the box giving Redman zero chance to have any running room.

While Redman is quick, he is certainly not on Mendenhall’s level as far as speed is concerned, and he certainly does not posses Mendenhall’s big play ability. It seems as though the entire team is in a funk to start the season, and shaking things up is always an option to motivate the players. But I don’t think it’s time to pull the plug on Mendenhall as the feature back. He will turn things around, and filling his mind with the thoughts that his job is in jeopardy may be exactly what he needs to get his motor running.