The All-Out Blitz - Steelers need to find running game in 2013

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Steelers need to find running game in 2013

With so much Ben bashing going on this week -- both by the media and the quarterback himself -- it's time to point the finger of blame elsewhere.

After all, we want to be fair and thorough in our analysis.

Roethlisberger deserves his share, of course, but he really had no help.

The running game failed him repeatedly, falling to 26th in the NFL. Only the pitiful Chargers, Raiders and Jaguars were worse in the AFC. The Steelers averaged 96.4 rushing yards per game, and three backs around the league did better all by themselves.

His line was beaten up and unreliable.

Roethlisberger was sacked 35 times, not the worst in the league, but he was repeatedly under pressure from pass rushers.

We should have seen this coming. Roethlisberger was sacked three times in the Steelers' final possession of the Denver playoff game last January.

The line never got any better.

And now coach Mike Tomlin must replace line coach Sean Kugler, who did a nice job piecing together a battered unit. Kugler has moved on to become head coach at Texas-El Paso.

There is hope, though.

Young linemen Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro and Mike Adams were injured through much of the season, and should return to complement Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. (Let's see if they can stay healthy.)

If the blocking improves, the Steelers still must find a running back to take advantage of it.

No need to reach in the first round, either. There are plenty of examples of good runners who slide beyond the first 32 picks.

The Steelers must be smart with their top pick after four of the past five failed this season. Rashard Mendenhall, Ziggy Hood, Cam Heyward and DeCastro have shown more promise than production. The good news is that all have time to get better, with the possible exception of Mendenhall, who is unsigned for 2013.

But if there isn't a back with a first-round grade, fill another hole. Goodness knows, there are plenty of those.

Somehow, the Steelers need to find a running back who can help restore the tough-minded identity that carried the team to Super Bowls.

Failing that, not even Ben can save them.

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