Parker had this to say on Wednesday:
"I just don't think we should give up that quick," Parker said afterI find it interesting that Parker asked about the difference between now and two years ago. Last year, he led the league in rushing before breaking his leg. You would think he would ask about the difference between this year and last year. Last year, the Steelers ran a similar offensive set with Bruce Arians. Two years ago, Ken Whisenhunt was running the offense. I think this was a veiled shot at Coach Arians.
practice yesterday. "We're the Pittsburgh Steelers, everyone knows we're going
to run the ball -- or they used to think we'd run the ball. We pass the ball a
lot now. We go away from Steelers football, Steelers mentality."
"I definitely think about it all the time -- why can't we run the ball?
What's the difference between now and two years ago? So it's definitely being a
concern, me being a running back."
"We get into two tights now," Parker said, "it's like without a fullback,
[defenses] definitely know what's coming and they know where it's going. I
don't know what it is but it's not being effective.
This is a not-so-veiled shot at the the two tight end system. This is a direct criticism of the man running the offense. For many teams (see Dallas), it might be normal to see a star player criticising a coach or fellow teammate. Not in Pittsburgh. Yes, the fans are quick to place blame and most Steelers bloggers have been quick to point out the faults of the Steelers offense, who rank 25th overall ahead of juggernauts like the Chiefs, Raiders, and Lions. But, Steelers players normally say the right things to the media (Joey Porter and Anthony Smith are exceptions). The fact that Willie Parker is venting to the media is a sign of how much confidence the team has lost in the execution and game plan of the offense.
Mike Tomlin, as usual, has said the right things about Parker's outburst. There is a reason that players and coaches like to play for Tomlin, because he doesn't scapegoat them to the media.
"The issue for us has been, is and hopefully will continue to be winning --
that's my interpretation of Steelers football," Tomlin said. "Every morning I
come to work I walk past five Lombardis, not five rushing titles.
"The issue is winning...Do we need to get better in terms of running the football?
Absolutely," Tomlin said. "And the reason is this -- because it increases our
chances of winning.
"I talked to the football team. We're a 10-3 team trying to be an 11-3
team, and the issue and singular focus we should have is on winning."
It's great to have a loyal coach, but let's just hope the fact that this team is winning doesn't cloud his judgment about how poorly the offense has performed with the amount of talent on the roster.