Credit USA Today Images.
When Le’Veon Bell was drafted during the second round in this year’s draft, Steeler Nation shifted slightly in their seats. Running back was a hole that needed filling, but was the second round really the best time? What about safety? What about cornerback? What about another linebacker? Surely, there would be solid running backs in the third and fourth rounds. And who the hell is Le’Veon Bell?
Friday, April 26th should have been a rather large wakeup call for most in Steeler Nation, and it should have stirred up those who pine for the old days of running the football helps win championships. When the Steelers selected Le’Veon Bell (and in the second round no less), they were recommitting themselves to running the football. And, they were putting all their stock into Bell. I hope Bell realizes this – at least his teammates do.
"I mean, this is Pittsburgh. We’re going to run the football, that’s what our offense is going to be about. We’re going to have to run the football. The Steelers and running the ball go hand in hand, like a ball and chain. Receivers are committed to helping run the ball, blocking downfield, not just catching the ball and worrying about scoring touchdowns. Everybody else around the league is going to be going up-tempo, flashy, four- and five-wide, pistol, shotgun, spread passing. We’re going to stay true to our roots and run the football. – Plaxico Burress"
For Burress to put that out there while in the early days of camp, it seems fairly obvious that Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin sent an edict down the line in the first team meeting on campus. Perhaps losing eight games last season caused Tomlin to sit and brood with more than just the feeling of anger and disappointment.
"I’m hacked off whenever we’re not world champions, so I’ve only had one instance (Super Bowl XLIII) since I’ve been here where I wasn’t. I’m not making too much of 8-8. That’s last year. This is not a continuation of last year. Yes, in some ways, that type of hacked-off-ness can be good fuel. But we better be prepared to move on. Obviously, our intentions are to be the world champions. That’s not going to change. – Mike Tomlin"
Perhaps moving on means moving away from a pass heavy (or heavier) offense and getting back to what has always made Steelers football so successful – running the ball. Todd Haley might be ready to oblige, especially if someone can step forward. If that is the case, then the pressure is on for Mr. Le’Veon Bell to step up and become that featured back. For my two cents, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have handed in their resumes already. Unless they have some pretty eye popping moments during the padded practices and early preseason games, the scale tips more and more in Bell’s favor. Bell is the future of the Steelers’ running game, and the future is right around the corner – whether he is ready or not.
For the sake of the 2013 season and our beloved Black & Gold’s chances of putting together a post season filled year, I hope he is.