The overrated ball carrier for the Steelers, Rashard Mendenhall won’t be with the team on Sunday when they travel to the NFL’s version of the Hilton, Texas Stadium to face the Cowboys. After violating team rules the Steelers have suspended him one game, which includes his game check and he can’t practice with the team this week.
Unless injuries hit the Steelers Running Backs, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Mendenhall doesn’t play another down this season. After recovering from his torn ACL suffered at the end of the 2011, he returned only to fight through an Achilles injury. After that he put together a few inconsistent showings on game day, which ended with a thud following a two fumble performance in the team meltdown against the Cleveland Browns.
Since then Mendenhall was deactivated in favor of Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. That trend is likely to continue and the former #1 draft pick may be seeing his days in Pittsburgh come to an end.
According to his agent, and reported by Ed Bouchette: “What’s happened, happened,” McCartney told the Post-Gazette. “When I spoke to Rashard, I know he is very excited next Monday to rejoin his teammates. He’s going to come back with great energy to do everything he can to help the Pittsburgh Steelers win football games.”
The Steelers signed halfback Baron Batch from the practice squad to replace Mendenhall on the 53-man roster. The suspension will cost Mendenhall $41,176.47, one week’s (1/17th) worth of his $700,000 salary.
Regardless of the reasons he was suspended, the writing has been on the wall this season with his demotion and lack of production.
Mendenhall is an unrestricted free agent next season, and the team is unlikely to be able to keep all 3 running backs plus Chris Rainey and newly signed practice squad player Baron Batch, even if they want to.
Even if this suspension didn’t happen, I’m beyond weary of listening to so many so called experts defend Mendenhall as if he’s some sort of god in the Steelers backfield. He’s been nothing but inconsistent his entire career. All the talk about how much of a complete package he is, how he can do everything well, and the like has never been proven on the field of battle. For every time I’ve seen him power through blockers and bull his way into the endzone, I see countless negative yardage plays. For every breakaway burst of speed there is a run for no gain because he’s stuff at the point of attack.
When you have an offensive line that continues to struggle, you need the type of “north and south” running, power backs that can make something out of nothing. Being indecisive in the pocket, dancing around before making a decision and hitting the gap is not a recipe for success when you have blockers who are routinely switched out due to injuries.
A look at his stats below (from the 2011 season) gives more than enough indication of the type of inconsistent play that the Steelers can’t afford to keep around. It’s time to cut ties and move forward, and although that isn’t likely to happen before the end of the season, it should come to pass when this years’ campaign is over.
Is Jonathan Dwyer the answer, or Isaac Redman? Both have shown flashes this year that they are capable of being the feature back. Dwyer has been getting the lions’ share of the carries but an all out competition in 2013 should prove to be effective in finding the feature tailback for Pittsburgh.