Posted by Sean Tomlinson under Pittsburgh Steelers, Ponderings on May 24, 2013
Zone blocking-schemes are a fickle beast in the NFL, and their resounding success stories are balanced by the failures. The most notable and often cited example of the former is the Houston Texans, a team which has used the scheme that’s perfectly suited for Arian Foster’s skillset to clear room for their lead running back to run for 4,264 yards over the past three seasons, with 41 touchdowns. His highest single-season total during that stretch was 1,616 yards. Yeah, pretty good.
Then there’s the tale of woe that is the Raiders. Sure, much of Darren McFadden’s failures under their zone-blocking scheme installed prior to the 2012 season was a result of his inability to not break things (he missed four games). But when he was healthy, McFadden was mostly horrible. He averaged 3.3 yards per carry and 58.9 per game, while scoring only twice on the ground.
This offseason the Raiders announced a move away from zone blocking, and McFadden was rather excited:
“This is very exciting for me. I am the type of guy who likes to go downhill, make a cut and go; that’s my thing. We’ll mix it up like we used to, and get some zones in there, but for the most part, I will be keeping my shoulders toward the line of scrimmage.”
Despite all the wonderful things the Steelers’ coaching staff and offensive linemen are saying about their intention to mix in some zone-blocking concepts this year, you’re forgiven for feeling more conflicting emotions than a pimple-faced teen.