I hope that the Steelers plan to use Mewelde Moore a fair bit on offense. I think it would be unwise to bank too heavily, or exclusively, on Willie Parker unless he is having an absolutely dominating evening right from the get-go. For the regular season, Moore gained 588 yards on 140 carries for an average of 4.2 yds per carry. By comparison, Parker gained 791 yds on 210 carries for an average of only 3.8 yds per carry. In addition, Moore had 40 receptions for 320 yds (8 yds per reception) while Parker had only 3 receptions for 13 yds (4.3 yds per reception). For the entire regular season therefore, Moore obtained 908 yds on 180 touches at 5 yds per touch, while Parker obtained 804 yds on 213 touches at 3.8 yds per touch. Also, Moore accounted for 6 TDs while Parker accounted for 5 TDs.
Parker was injured early in the season and was out for four straight games (against Baltimore, Jacksonville, Cincinnati and the Giants. After Mendenhall’s season ended during the Baltimore game, Moore was the primary back for the Steelers for the remainder of this stretch and he ended up gaining 394 yds on 77 touches at 5.1 yds per touch (316 yds on 64 carries at 4.9/carry and 78 yds on 13 catches at 6 yds/catch).
Moore was used only sparingly in the last four games of the regular season and has been used even more sparingly during the playoffs. In the playoffs so far, Parker has gained 193 yds on 51 carries (3.8 yds/carry) and has one reception for -2 yds. Moore meanwhile has had 19 yds on 4 carries and 21 yds on 3 receptions for a total of 40 yds on 7 touches (5.7 yds/touch).
In the relatively little I have seen of the Steeler games this season, I thought that Moore has just looked a bit better than Parker. Turns out, the numbers bear that out. One of the reasons Arizona is in the Super Bowl is that Whisenhunt wasn’t shy about benching Leinart in favor of Warner or James in favor of Hightower (the former guys having bigger contracts than the latter guys and thereby supposedly having starter status by default) when he saw that the former guys were performing better than the latter guys. I think Mike Tomlin should take a page out of that book and give Moore more playing time. The Steeler offense has struggled this year and it could use all the help it can get.
If Parker has a huge Super Bowl and carries the Steelers to a resounding win, and thereby makes me look like an ass for my aforementioned concerns, no one will be more pleased than I. But for now, the numbers are what they are and they bear some mulling over.
Thursday, January 29, 2009