Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Commitment to the Run"

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has emphasized that he believes any successful team must have a strong running game. All too often, however, “commitment to the run” is but a forgotten platitude. Example A: Witness how the New Orleans Saints gave workhorse stud running back Deuce McAllister only six carries in the NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears.

So, give the Chicago Bears credit for playing to their strength early in the NFC Championship Game and sticking to the run on a key second-quarter drive against the Saints. Running back Thomas Jones carried the ball on all eight plays of the drive, which culminated in a two-yard touchdown run.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls love this sort of drive, which was dissected and analyzed nicely by Michael David Smith at Football Outsiders.

Nothing demoralizes a defense more than being unable to stop the run. Then, when the defense overcompensates and stacks the line to try to stop the run, it becomes vulnerable to the aerial attack – which is what happened later in the Bears-Saints game.

The Indianapolis Colts have their notice.

R.I.P. Barbaro, Our Equine Friend