So why try?">
So why try?">

Spread it out

Despite their "huge" 138-yard effort two weeks ago in Cincinnati, the Steelers are stuck with one reality four games into the 2003 season: They can't run the football, at least not effectively enough to scare anyone. <br><br> So why try?

When the Steelers had trouble scoring in the red zone in the past, the reason was obvious: They just didn't have a lot of offensive talent.

Back in those days, when they got down to the area of the field where defenses tightened up, the Steelers often had to settle for field goals. But figuring out why this current offense can't get in the end zone is a different problem.

The Steelers have moved the ball inside the opponent's 20 yard line 15 times, the most of any team in the NFL. Yet they have come away with a touchdown on those occasions just five times.

Why? The Steelers seem to take a decidedly different approach to things inside the 20, and especially inside the 10.

Once they get inside the 10, more often than not, they go to a run-oriented power offense, bringing in two tight ends and fullback Dan Kreider, and taking either Plaxico Burress or Hines Ward - or both - off the field.

The only time they go with the three and four wide receiver sets they used to move the ball up and down the field is when it's second or third and long.

Burress and Ward are the top two weapons in this offense. Taking them off the field inside the 10 would be akin to the Steelers of a few years ago taking Jerome Bettis off the field inside the 10. You'd just never do it.

Coordinator Mike Mularkey has a brilliant offensive mind. He has been remarkable, keeping opponents off balance with trick plays and different formations.

Maybe it's time to try something completely different. Scrap the power formations. Since the offensive talent on this team lies with its receivers, get them on the field and leave them there.

Run the spread offense that opponents used with great success against the Steelers last season on a full-time basis. Not only would it keep Burress and Ward on the field, but Zereoue has proven in the past that he's a much better runner against nickel and dime defenses when there are four receivers spreading the field.

The Steelers simply don't have the offensive line or running backs to play a power game any longer. Spreading the field would accentuate the things they do well.

Steel City Insider Top Stories