Found February 10, 2013 on
SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
There is a reason that Mike Shanahan has always had a very good running game; it’s known as the zone blocking scheme. Todd Haley implemented that scheme in Kansas City and he had the number on rushing team in the league. Last year the Chiefs used the scheme again with new Steelers offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. and they had the fifth best rushing team in the league. Shanahan has led three sixth round picks to 1,000 yard seasons and a lot of that can be attributed to his offensive line.
Terrell David, Mike Anderson and now Alfred Morris have all had success for Shanahan despite being late round picks. One of the main reasons for their success is the offensive lines they have run behind and the zone blocking scheme which has helped many running backs have successful careers. The Houston Texans also use the zone blocking scheme which Texans head coach Gary Kubiak picked up while working as Shanahan’s offensive coordinator. Alex Gibbs, who worked as the Broncos offensive line coach from 1995-2003, was one of the biggest proponents of zone blocking during his coaching career.
Now as the Steelers try to fix a running game that has struggled the past few years it looks as though they will try to implement zone blocking as well. The zone blocking scheme works best with athletic offensive lineman that can work in space. The Steelers could be starting five linemen all under the age of 26 in 2013 and they should all fit into this scheme. That projected line is (from left to right) Marcus Gilbert, Kelvin Beachum, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Mike Adams.
With the line set the Steelers now need to decide who they will start at running back in 2013. Rashard Mendenhall is expected to leave in free agency and the only real option right now is Jonathan Dwyer. Many don’t believe that Dwyer can play in the zone blocking scheme because he doesn’t have the quickness, but if Dwyer can slim down to his college playing weight he could fit right into the scheme the Steelers are playing on using.
Dwyer has the speed to hit the homerun and he did so in his rookie season against the Titans. Yes, Dwyer was run down on that play, but that is due more to the 4.3 speed of Courtland Finnegan rather than a lack of speed by Dwyer. Mike Anderson played very well for the Broncos in the early 2000′s behind the zone blocking scheme and he compares almost exactly to Dwyer. In comparison to Anderon’s playing days he and Dwyer are the same height, same weight and Dwyer ran faster than Anderson in the forty yard dash.
Now if Anderson was able to excel in the zone blocking scheme than Dwyer should be able to as well. The other positive to Dwyer is that unlike a smaller and faster running back Dwyer can also break tackles once he is in the open field. There is no reason to think that Dwyer can’t be the Steelers starting running back in 2013 no matter what blocking scheme they decide to use up front.
The Steelers could still deicide to find a new running back in the NFL draft, but most of the top runners are big power backs like Dwyer. So as of now Dwyer is the most likely option to start at running back in 2013. We just have to hope that he comes into camp in the best shape of his life and ready to break out as one of the top running backs in the league. If he can do that the Steelers will have that balanced offensive attack that they so desperately want.
Steelers fans are well aware, however, that Dwyer has had some conditioning problems, but if he is made aware that he needs to slim down back to the size he was in his college days he should be a very good back in 2013. Below are two videos from Dwyer’s days at Georgia Tech that help to illustrate just how athletic of a runner he is as well as shows of his quickness.
The post Jonathan Dwyer Will Fit as a Running Back in the Zone Blocking Scheme appeared first on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog.
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