The Pittsburgh Steelers were a shadow of their normal self in 2012. The perennial playoff team ended the season at 8-8 and in third place in the AFC North. One of the glaring differences with the Steelers was their lack of commitment to the running game. Jonathan Dwyer ended the season as the leading rusher. Nothing against Dwyer but I don’t think of game breaker or fear his ability to take over a game when I hear his name. This should change in 2013 when Le’Veon Bell steps in as the lead back in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers finished the season ranked 26th in rushing with an average of 96 yards per game. Hardly a “Steeler like” rushing attack. I expect them to turn back to their usual ways and run the ball with more effectiveness. Due to them trailing more than they had in the past they ran the ball less than they had the previous two seasons (412 attempts compared to 471 in 2010). They drafted Bell with the 48th overall pick because they believe he can be their new workhorse running back. They are also fully aware of how much abuse Roethlisberger has suffered and will need to pose a real threat from the running game to keep defenses more honest.
While a lot of the talk has been about Montee Ball with the Denver Broncos he will split work with Ronnie Hillman, Bell should be a three down back for Pittsburgh. He will have to prove that he is a capable pass protector or Dwyer who is GREAT in pass protection will steal third down work from him. Bell is the most talented back on the Steelers roster and should be the lead back for a team who should look to return to a more balanced attack.
My belief is this will result in Bell being a real threat for Offensive Rookie of The Year. I also think this will result in more victories for the Steelers. I see 11 winnable games on the 2013 schedule which will put them in position to compete for the AFC North and at the very least return them to the playoffs via one of the wildcard spots. Is this all because of Le’Veon Bell? No, but I do think he will provide one of the few missing pieces. Le’Veon will be the “Bell Cow” in the backfield for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. Enjoy Steeler fans.