Willie Parker went and messed it up.
Heading into the Browns game, Steel Curtain Rising was ready. With the playoffs on the horizon, it was time to officially call for Mewelde Moore to get the starting nod over Willie Parker for the playoffs.
Then came the season finale against the Browns, where Parker went out and gained 116 yards on 23 carries for a five yard per carry average. To top it off, he had a 34 yard touchdown run, which is the Steelers longest run from scrimmage in 2008.
If there ever was talk of asking Parker to ride the pine or yielding up his starting spot among the coaches (and there probably wasn’t), that talk certainly died with the Browns game.
The debate, however, continues to rage among Steelers fans.
So Steel Curtain Rising is holding back on taking a position, and turning the question over the jury, you the members of Steelers Nation.
The Case for Starting Willie Paker
Willie Parker has “it.” In only five years, four of them as a starter, he is already the franchise’s number three all time rusher. And we’re talking about the Steelers here, the team that has rushed for more total yards than any other NFL team since the NFL-AFL merger (and number two is not even close.)
- Big Play Potential
During the Raven’s game the consensus at Shanghai Kelly’s was that Parker’s injuries have slowed him, that he’s simply not “Fast Willie” at the moment.
Yet against the Browns he rattled off 34 yarder. And while Direct TV Latin America didn’t want Steelers fans in this part of the world to see that game (yep, b_tching about that again) Steel Curtain Rising cannot evaluate if that play was true to “Fast Willie” form, but a 34 yard run is a 34 yard run.
Let’s not forget that he owns the Super Bowl record for the longest run from scrimmage.
Even if Willie is a half step slower than he has been in years past, the argument goes that Parker is still a threat to take it all the way every time he touches the ball.
- A History of Getting it Done
Ever since the reign of Bill Cowher, analysis of the Steelers offense has been punctuated by the following phrase: When [insert name] gets a 100 yards, the Steelers win. First it was Barry Foster. Then it was Bam Morris. Then it was Jerome Bettis. Now it is Willie Parker.
The point is that the entire Steelers game is geared toward controlling the clock with the ground game, and a big part of the Steelers offensive inconsistencies has been their inability (or Arians lack of commitment to) establishing the run.
- Parker’s five one hundred yard games this year have all been games when the Steelers were committed to running the ball.
Unlike Mewelede Moore, Parker is battle tested in the playoffs. He’s earned the trust of his teammates, and he’s earned the right to start.
Or has he…..
The Case for Starting Mewelde Moore
New Websters defenition of To Come Under the Radar: Mewelde Moore’s arrival with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
No kidding. Steel Curtain Rising’s post noting Moore’s signing offered a deeper analysis than did anyone in the Pittsburgh media.
- It wasn’t just the Pittsburgh media that ignored Moore
The Steelers offensive staff only gave him one touch of the ball prior to Parker and Rashard Mendenhall’s injuries; heck they even called Carey Davis number before Moore’s during the first Raven’s game.
Mewelde Moore doesn’t have the breakaway speed of Willie Parker. He isn’t going to carry people with him for an extra five yards the way Bettis did in his hey day. He’s not going to be a power rusher like Mendenhall has the potential to be.
No, Moore doesn’t have those qualities, but he does remind die hard members of the Black and Gold Brigade of another, often under appreciated, Steeles running back: Merrill Hoge.
- That’s right, Mewelde Moore brings back memories of Merrill Hoge.
There was little that was sexy about Hoge, but there was always something you could be sure about when Hoge had the ball in his hands: He would run like hell.
Moore is the same way. He runs like hell whenever he gets the ball. More importantly, Mewelde Moore delivers.
- In his first meaningful action during the first Raven’s game, Moore made couple of key third down conversions during “must win time.”
- In his first start against the Jaguars he simply rattled off multiple double digit yards.
- Every time he gets the ball in his hands, Mewelde Moore hustles. He also adds and element to the air game, as his 40 catches for 320 yards demonstrate.
The Steelers are going to need a work horse type back in these playoffs, and Moore has simply shown he’s up to it.
- Moore’s Downside
Feels kind of funny to say that after having written such a sterling endorsement of Moore. But fair is fair.
Parker’s liabilities are well known and oft discussed, but the same cannot be said of Moore. Against the Ravens and Chargers, Mewelde Moore averaged 1.75 yards a carry, although he only had one carry against the Chargers – which make sense as Willie Parker was in the process of gaining 115 yards, a team that just happens to be on the Steelers plate this week….
Nor did he fair well against Indy, although they are no longer a potential playoff opponent, but nor is it a team known for its run defense.
Another knock on Moore is that he has a total of 7 touches in post season – including kick returns, vs. 67 for Parker… This is of course not Moore’s fault, but there is discounting the value of experience is never wise.
Willie Parker vs. Mewelde Moore – The Tale of the Tape
Career Numbers – Rushing
- Total Rushing Yards: 4989
- Rushing Average: 4.3
- Rushing TD’s: 24
- Total Yards Rushing: 187
- Rushing Average: 4.6
- Rushing Touchdowns
Career Numbers – Receiving
- Willie Parker
- Total Receptions: 78
- Total Yards Receiving 633
- Receiving Average 8.1
- Touchdown catches 4
- Total Receptions: 156
- Total Yards Recieving 1413
- Reciving Average: 9.1
- Touchdown catches: 3
- Performance in 2008 with the Steelers
- Total Rushes: 210
- Total Rushing Yards: 791
- Rushing Average: 3.8
- Rushing TD’s: 5
- Total Receptions: 3
- Total Yards Receiving 13
- Receiving Average 4.3
- Touchdown catches 0
- Total Rushes: 140
- Rushing Average: 4.2
- Rushing TD’s: 5
- Total Receptions: 40
- Total Yards Receiving: 320
- Receiving Average: 8.0
- Touchdown catches: 1
What do You Think?
So there you have it. Steel Curtain Rising really has no clear opinion on this, so we leave the question to you.
Let the debate begin!