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Kirwan predicts Steelers running game probably will drop off

Postby thesteelhammer » Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:13 pm

Interesting analysis by Kirwin, prediciting "the Steelers (running game) will probably drop off".
He doesn't mention the possible upgrade of Hartwig over Mahan. Seems to focus on the loss of just one player and not the "gel" offensive line theory.;jsessionid=5A18316B3FF9FED8A370321C5E36842F?id=09000d5d808dab0e&template=with-video&confirm=true

Faneca could be latest guard to have big impact on new team
By Pat Kirwan |
Senior Analyst

Sometimes it feels like everyone talks about left tackles on offense as if they are the only linemen that count. Ruben Brown has been to nine Pro Bowls but he's hardly in the conversation as a Hall of Fame candidate. Larry Allen struggles to keep up with Jonathan Ogden when I pose the question about who deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Try to run the ball when you lose an elite offensive guard. Try and protect the QB without a stud inside protecting the midline.

Well, the question entering the 2008 season when it comes to offensive guards is actually a two-parter: How much will the Steelers miss Alan Faneca and how much improvement can the Jets expect to have with Faneca in their lineup?

To project the answer to these questions, I went back and looked at three elite guards who recently left their original teams and moved on for financial reasons. Larry Allen left the Cowboys after the 2005 season for the 49ers; Steve Hutchinson left the Seahawks for the Vikings after the 2005 season; and Eric Steinbach bolted from the Bengals after 2006 for division-rival Cleveland. The outcome of these three departures should be a good indicator of the impact Faneca will have in 2008.

It may also be a hint as to what the Giants have to consider with Chris Snee coming to the end of his contract in 2008.

In 2005, the last season Allen played for the Cowboys, Dallas ranked 13th as a rushing club in the NFL. In 2006, they remained the 13th-ranked rushing team and continued to rush the ball at 3.7 yards per carry. Not much of an impact on the Cowboys when they let Allen go -- but his impact on the 49ers offense was significant. The year before Allen arrived in the Bay Area, the 49ers were the 17th-ranked rushing team. Allen's first season saw the team jump all the way up to no. 6 rushing the football.

In 2005, the Seahawks were the no. 3 rushing team and most of the running plays were designed to follow Hutchinson. The year after he left for Minnesota, the Seahawks dropped to 14th and the rushing average dropped from 4.7 yards per carry to 4.0. Hutchinson's arrival in Minnesota in 2006 spiked the Vikings' running game, which was no. 27 before he got to there, to 16th in his first season at guard.

When Steinbach left the Bengals, they continued to be a below-average running team, but the Browns went from no. 31 in the league to 10th -- and Steinbach led the way on many of those plays.

The Steelers were the third-best rushing team with Faneca sealing the point of attack either as a pulling guard on plays to the right or drive blocking on runs to the left. Can the Steelers keep up their rich rushing tradition without Faneca? The Seahawks couldn't without Hutchinson and, like Pittsburgh, they were the third-ranked rushing team when their All Pro guard led the way.

It appears the Steelers will probably drop off. As for the Jets, they should expect their running game to jump from 19th to somewhere closer to 12th. Thomas Jones should have a lot more good-sized holes to run through with Faneca blocking the point of attack. The average jump in league ranking when the elite guards switched teams was 14 spots in the team ranking in the first year , so a Jets move of seven spots could be considered conservative.

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Re: Kirwan predicts Steelers running game probably will drop off

Postby indysteel » Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:32 pm


This is a weak argument.......while on the surface it would appear to be based on some form of meaningful analysis, there simply is way to many other variables that are unaccounted for.

Change in other positions, game planning, injuries, change in OCs, playing to other strengths, the addition / deletions of other players, game situations, etc... Most likely, it is a combination of things that lead to the results he is mentioning.

One player? A guard?

Faneca was great...and is still good....but football is a team sport and no place is that more notable than on the o-line.

He'll be missed....AND replaced.

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Re: Kirwan predicts Steelers running game probably will drop off

Postby lynchcowher » Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:21 am

Kemo will do just fine.... Mahan not playing will help.... Starks starting at RT would help even more. If someone could just convince our borderline retarded head coach to bench Simmons, I think we'd be more than okay.

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Re: Kirwan predicts Steelers running game probably will drop off

Postby fadden » Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:49 am

i don't think anyone is going to predict our running game will improve from '3rd' after losing faneca.

but of the three comparisons, the larry allen was the best, and that one didn't really affect the cowboys. hutchinson is better than faneca ever was, and he changed teams at his absolute peak. steinbach was also going into his C2.

larry allen was, like faneca, solidly on the downhill slope of his career. i think faneca is underrated around here, but he's still nowhere near a 'dominant' player. he was a solid guard last season, which is something we could use two of this year:(

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Re: Kirwan predicts Steelers running game probably will drop off

Postby The Fan Of STEEL » Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:54 pm

Complete bunk, but being the number one RB in the league is hard to follow. Kirwin is focused on the loss of Faneca and thinks that our line will be weaker without him. I believe Faneca played subpar last season and just did not want to get hurt before being traded. Our line will be no worse than last year.

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Re: Kirwan predicts Steelers running game probably will drop off

Postby lynchcowher » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:10 pm

I agree....... I don't think it CAN BE any worse than last year. Let's just just hope our coach is of at least below average intelligence, and sees that the Kendoll getting knocked on his ass every other play is not helping the situation.

I really do believe he recognizes that he fucked up royally bringing in Mahan, and to a lesser extent, starting Colon over Starks. If they make the right decisions with the starting personell (Smith, Kemo, Hartwig, Stapleton/Legursky/Colon, Starks) we would have a dominant run blocking line, and maybe even a better pass blocking line.

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