Don’t Fret Yet, Replacing the 2011 Mendenhall in the “Statistical Aggregate” Possible for the Steelers in 2012

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Conclusion/Tying It All Together

Will it be a task to replace Mendenhall’s 2011 production with a triumvirate of runners?  Heck yes.  However, will it be an impossible task?  Not when you compare it to replacing other important positions and their production/impact on the field.

In fact, Pittsburgh could have an even better season in terms of Running Back production without Mendenhall if these things happen.  As I alluded to before, Todd Haley could scheme his Offense to fit his players’ skill sets better and the Offense as a whole better.  For example, in the Red Zone, Ben could be handing the ball off more and targeting Backs like Redman as pass receivers.  Second, the addition of a healthy Baron Batch could give the Steelers a 3rd Down Back that is a receiving threat which they haven’t seen since Mewelde Moore back in ’08.  But most importantly, the Steelers could inevitably see their ground game produce more if they decide to upgrade along the Offensive Line in April’s Draft/Free Agency.

That aforementioned reason is the big one.  Pittsburgh MUST find help at both starting Guard spots, and think about upgrading one starting Tackle position and adding some depth for the future.  The Steelers have an All-Pro in the form of Center Maurkice Pouncey and a budding Tackle in Marcus Gilbert.  Nevertheless, the “Gators” aren’t enough.  The Guard group of “Legursky, Kemoeatu, and Foster” must end.  Kemoeatu is a liability in terms of performance, holding penalties, and post-whistle penalties, and Legursky and Foster are great to have as backups, but can still be replaced by more talented players.  Willie Colon has proven to be injury prone in addition to being an average RT with a penchant for False Starts and LT Max Starks is coming off an injury as well.

Offensive Line upgrades aside, it should be an interesting season to watch what happens with regards to the Steelers’ RB’s in the event Mendenhall is a “no-go.”  All that the “RB by committee” crew needs to do is accumulate (hopefully exceed) whatever statistical production Mendenhall can’t account for and keep the Offense running smoothly.

In my opinion, I believe that this unit is talented enough and hungry enough to keep the chains moving.  These specific players have entirely too much at stake to let an opportunity slip through their fingers:

Isaac Redman is being given his best chance to start in the N.F.L. and will likely play his tail off to make the most out of said chance.  Baron Batch will be given his first “live action” ever, and will be hungry to get back to work after his layoff.  And the winner of the Dwyer/Clay competition will simply be fighting to dress on Sundays with the Black & Gold in 2012.

It will be an intriguing offseason in terms of the RB position, and I’m incredibly stoked to see how this whole situation turns out.  Are you?

(Follow me on Twitter @DominicDiTolla)