Saturday, March 29, 2014

LeGarrette Blount Joins the Steelers

LeGarrete Blount, on his Twitter account,
looking happy after signing
 with the Steelers.  What's up with the hand signs?
The Steelers' signing of LeGarrette Blount can mean only good things for the running game. We hope.

Blount should be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound sledgehammer that backs up the 244-pound hammer that is Le'Veon Bell.

Steelers' fans: Don't expect Blount to be The Bus. Nobody is. It's been 18 years since a 24-year-old Jerome Bettis joined the Steelers on Draft Day in 1996 and went on to carve out a career that should put him in the Hall of Fame. Many fans have been looking for another Bus ever since Bettis retired after the 2005 season. 

It's unrealistic to expect the 27-year-old Blount, or anybody else, will approximate what Bettis did. Bettis had unusually quick, nimble feet to complement brute force, surprising speed, ruthless power, relentless determination and consistent focus that lasted all the way through his 10 years in Pittsburgh. Those attributes helped him rack up a career total of 13,662 yards rushing. He was The Bus.

The Winnebago
The Steelers become the fourth NFL team for Blount, who at one time was nicknamed The Winnebago. What the 250-pound Blount can do, hopefully, is provide a powerful one-two punch for the Steelers, a reinforcement to Bell, as well as a legitimate force on third down, in the Red Zone and in the fourth quarter. 

Bell seems happy:
 Retweeted by 
RT : At & !! Whew, the Steelers will be down hill. Put your big boy pads on people!! --ohh yeahh!

Meanwhile, people in Baltimore seem unhappy, or at least concerned, if the following from The Baltimore Sun is any indication, as the Ravens were reportedly interested in signing Blount in the wake of a dreadful running game in 2013 and the subsequent arrest and off-season legal woes of Ray Rice:

"The Ravens had difficulty tackling Blount during a 41-7 loss to the Patriots in December. Blount rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.  The 6-foot, 250-pounder player has a hard-nosed, old-school running style. He rushed for 772 yards and scored seven touchdowns last season for New England. The former Oregon standout gained 189 of those yards in the regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.  During a playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts, Blount rushed for 166 yards and four touchdowns."

That is all well and good, and it sounds auspicious for the Steelers and Blount alike. At 27 years of age, Blount should be in the prime of his career. He's had some success in the league, but it's been spotty. It's been an uphill climb. Unlike Bettis, Blount was not a first-round draft choice. He came into the league as an undrafted free agent, signed by the Tennessee Titans. He bounced from Tennessee to Tampa to New England, where, to his credit, he had some late success.

His new two-year contract with Pittsburgh gives him a window -- really, his last, best chance -- to make his mark as an NFL player. Why, you ask, would this be his last, best chance?  By the time this contract runs its course, Blount will be 29.  If you think 29-year-old running backs are still considered prime commodities in this day and age, ask Maurice Jones-Drew. Joey Porter's Pit Bulls don't buy into that sentiment, but that's the way it seems to be in the NFL these days.

If Blount is serious about his career, his life and his legacy, he will make the most of this opportunity with the Steelers. 

Other Perspectives:

LeGarrette Blount on Twitter:

Steelers Depot: Blount Still Has Work to Do Despite Improvement  Steelers Get Reinforcements at Running Back

Behind the Steel Curtain:  Power and Power Now in the Steelers Backfield

LeBackfield: Steelers add LeGarrette Blount to Le'Veon Bell for best rushing combo in AFC North

Bob Labriola, Steelers Digest:

"A description of Blount’s running style can be found in his kickoff return statistics. Doing it for the first time in the NFL during the 2013 season with the Patriots, Blount averaged 29.1 yards per return with a long of 83 yards. He is a big guy who is quick to speed, and while he cannot be described as nifty, Blount has enough of a speed-power combination to make him dangerous to a defense."

No comments: