It’s always interesting to look at the record books of the Pittsburgh Steelers from year-to-year because even though you see a lot of the same names, you also see some new ones. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have worked their way onto several lists just to name a few.
A lot was made of rookie Le’Veon Bell’s performance last season in which he broke Franco Harris’ team record for ‘rookie yards from scrimmage.’ For the record, Bell amassed 1,259 yards from scrimmage last season despite missing the first three games.
Sitting at the top of the list for most yards from scrimmage in a season is Barry Foster. His 2,034 yards from scrimmage in 1992 are almost 300 yards more than Jerome Bettis whose 1996 season sits behind Foster in second place.
What makes Foster’s total so impressive is that he was not really known to be a receiving threat out of the backfield. Under offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt, the Steelers deployed an excellent screen passing game and Foster was the beneficiary of that.
With Bell’s tremendous performance in 2013, the question is can he possibly overcome Foster’s record? I have my doubts and here’s why; during Foster’s record campaign he rushed for 1,690 yards. In second was Leroy Thompson with 157 yards and third was Merril Hoge with 150.
That means Foster accounted for 78% of the team’s rushing yards. Because 2013 is the only baseline we have for Bell, he rushed for 860 yards which amounted to 62% of the team’s rushing total. You may think there would be a substantial difference in receiving yards but that isn’t the case.
Bell had 399 yards receiving while Foster in ’92 had 344 yards receiving.
Obviously there are numerous factors which cannot be ignored. Chief among them is the way the game is played today and the overall significance, or lack thereof, placed upon the running back position. This is what we must deal with however when discussing records.
As to the question, Bell could have a good opportunity in the coming years but much of this will depend on just how much the team is going to rely on LeGarrette Blount. If Blount is relied on as much as many think he will be, especially in goal to goal and shot yardage situations, then Bell will have little chance of catching Foster.
Nevertheless, it’s an interesting topic and hopefully will be for years to come.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.