Steelers Forcing the Issue with Hines Ward

Hines Ward is very very close to some huge Wide Receiver Milestones.  He is 9 yards away from getting 12,000 yards. He would be only the 19th player to do so in the history of the NFL.  Ward is also only 15 receptions away from getting 1,000 for his career.  He would be only the 8th player in NFL history to complete that mark.  Ward is only behind Tony Gonzalez on the active list in receptions.

Ward was pushed back to fifth on the depth chart only two weeks back.  It looked as if he would only get to the receiving yards milestone.  Then came Sunday.  Ward was targeted 6 times.  Most of those targets were on screen passes just to get Ward his receptions.  He now needs 3 catches per game to get to 1,000 this season.

It seems as if the Steelers are forcing the issue to get Ward these numbers.  Ward made 4 catches for 21 yards on Sunday Night.  That is just barely over 5 yards a catch.  Three of his 4 catches were for 5 yards or less.  Two of them were for 2 yards or less.  Ward is catching screen passes and getting tackled as soon as he gets the ball.  He is not faking out anyone, nor is he able to beat anyone down the field.

The Steelers were playing against the Chiefs which is fine to get Ward the ball because you should beat the Chiefs.  Get a lead first.  Giving Ward the ball slows the offense down.  Just having Ward on the field causes the offense to sputter.  We have better guys at this point in Ward’s career.  He was a great player and one of the best Steelers of all time.  He owns almost every Steelers receiving record.  That does not change that he is not the best option anymore.

I am all for getting Ward these numbers so he retires this offseason as a Steeler.  Not at the expense of the team though.  This team is in a tight race for the playoffs and an even tighter race for the division.  Slowing the offense down to get Ward these numbers is not what is needed.  The difference is obvious when Ward is on the field.  Once we have the lead throw it to him on every play. Just win the game first.  This game was too tight this week for that to happen.

  • Dstoner

    You forget to mention that one of his catches was for a 1st down. I don’t agree with this article at all. A little premature I think.  Hines will get his catches in the normal flow of the game.  No need to force anything.  Why ? Because he’ll be back next year for his finale. Can you say player/ coach ? 

  • Steelerfanmom

    I don’t know – don’t sell Hines short.  I think he still has the ability to contribute in a positive fashion – the young, fast receivers will get the coverage – he’s a great secret weapon.  And, he’s stubborn.  The more the Steeler Nation contemplates whether he should go join Brett Favre in the retirement home, the more he’s going to work to show us he’s still got what it takes.  I still think Hines can get his numbers and we’re better for it.

  • B&G

    Don’t agree that the game slows down when Hines is in — the offense was painful to watch for most of the game against KC and Hines was not in that much.  Hines has the surest hands on the team and runs exact routes.  They should have him in anytime they are in the red zone or need a 1st down.  He would never have missed the pass in the end-zone that Wallace dropped, which then led to the turnover and no points. 

  • Anonymous

    Youth ,speed no points, WONT block.Cant get the edge no HINES.

  • Smittyflash24

    Great article….and very much the truth! yes it’s ok to try and get the numbers,but stablize the offense first….Hines was not the problem in Kansas City…the two players that did’nt step up was Heath Miller and again Mike Wallace….Miller must come up with the passes over the middle period and I’m personlly tried of Mike Wallace becoming the one trick pony(as Mike Tomblin calls it!)…to be consitored one of the big play makers in the NFL when oppitunity presents itself..dropped 3rd down pass in Cinn game to run the clock out(1st down pass)…sundaynight inthe endzone dropped pass…sunday night long ball pass was;nt perfect,but ball hit him in the hands…drop! mind you we understand dropped passes…truely what I’m tried of is every game now Wallace is jaw jacking with an opponent corner back,the NFL has noticed you as one of the elite up and coming bigtime playmakers Mr.Wallace now to shut the opponents mouth,your actions must do that every sunday…..ala FITZGALD,A.JOHNSON,C.JOHNSON,S.SMITH,W.WELKER you talk the talk early in the season about 2000yds being the goal…my advise to you is you have arrived Mr.Wallace,don’t being just an potenial great rec..ala D.BRYANT,M.AUSTIN,R.WHITE….lower your white socks,shorten the white tape on the forearms…thank you for cutting the mohawk and now make plays for your QB who’s having a great year,you and A.Brown are the best combo this team has had since SWANN-N-STALLWORTH…..yes better than HINES/BURRESS and HINES/HOLMES….to be the man simply beat your man!

  • Tally12345

    I think having 4 wide receivers on the field and having Hines line up in the backfield would be the best for both the Steelers and Hines.  Hines could be used as a receiver to drop the ball off in case none of the other receivers are open and it should also allow Hines to move to vacant coverage on the field for him to continue catching the ball.

  • Chefloudini

    It is sad that people jump on and off a players wagon!  The only reason that these receivers are at this level is Hines Ward. He has earned the right to play, and deserves all balls thrown his way. I imagine you were on the same band wagon when everyone was in an uproar about the Steelers abandoning the run first philosophy!!! Hines has shown these young receivers how to block and play the tough Steeler brand of football!!! I really can’t believe how some people try to drop him like a hot potato. But he has been a constant for 14 years. Most of them being our best option, so we as a team, and city owes Hines a lot more than a few yards and catches!!

  • PA2AK

    after reading this and the comments…it only solidifies my thoughts that Ward at the 4/5 position is the right move. Even prior to his demotion there was very little if any output from Ward this season. His value to the Steelers and contributions to the NFL as a whole will never be diminished by anyone that knows even the very basics of football. One of the best all-around, team players most people have ever been able to watch. However, the Steelers need to focus on the W’s. Hines doesn’t fit the scheme right now, nor is he producing when he is forced into it. I wish he was the same old Hines…I really do, but he isn’t. I hope Arians and the rest of the coaching staff get their collective sh!t together and start looking to put teams away early (no more prevent offense please) so we can get Hines his records this year (it is likely his last). Maybe the coaching staff will take a page out of Hines’ book and coach for the team win first…then suit the individual and get Hines the ball when it is locked up. Would be nice to see Hines’ last year as a player end in at least a playoff run. Would be a lot worse to see him get personal records while the team falters in the critical stages of the regular season. Hope to see him take a couple years off and come back to coach. He has already done a great job with the young guys…just tell Mike to check his ego in the locker room.

  • PA2AK

    unfortunately…its the Pittsburgh Steelers and not the Hines Ward. The Steelers have cut several former pro-bowlers that were performing at much higher levels than Ward currently is. It is about the team…THAT is what makes the Steelers who they are. If you simply look at performance this year…he has earned his current spot on the depth chart. The simple fact that Hines is still touching the field is a testament to how much the organization thinks of him. No one is hating on Ward here…merely stating the obvious and unfortunate facts. Hines is less than the #3 in terms of on the field production. anyone that can call themselves a Steelers fan respects Ward. The organization likely has even higher regard for him. Why is Hines not complaining? I’d argue that he knows where he stands. He’s never shied away from public comment in the past. And yes, we DO owe him more. Its called respect. Don’t take one of the best team players ever and put him above the team…it’d be a slight to what he stands for, imho.

  • Tcmixer

    Ward can dance with the stars but can’t outrun the defense!
    He is still one of the toughest wide receivers in the game, or is he just feeling the years?
    In any case wish he would contribute more or get that chance!

  • Dog_man10

    Hines 1st down catch was huge, get in the game

  • TK

    These articles are worse then watching General Hospital…at the beginning of the season Brown was the whipping boy and now its Ward but let us remember last years Superbowl for Ward’s true value. When the wonder twins, Wallace and Brown, are hot they are impossible to beat however when there not it comes to the veterans like Ward to make the plays and in the red zone Ward is where Ben goes to put points on the board.  On the issue of screen passes, Wallace has not had much success in this either but we are not calling for him to be put out to pasture.

  • Darrin Ellis88

    Do you know anything about football? Playing WR is more than just speed.Mike Wallace might be the fastest man in the NFL, why can’t he get a TD everytime he is running a fly route? Because it’s more than speed. did you see hines sit down in that zone over the middle? that comes from experience,not speed. Still talking about speed,ever hear of Hall of famer Steve largent? Not very fast but a hall of famer none the less.

  • Bravo sir, bravo. You talk like you know a little bit about football. Let’s face it, Hines Ward was the perfect Steeler. Not big, not fast but wasn’t affraid to to work hard and get dirty. He’s the kind of player that everyone in Pittsburgh can get behind. He really might be my favorite Steeler of all time in fact. But there comes a time in every hall of famers career that their skills drastically drop off. He’s not the player he once was, and the system has evolved so that Ward’s skill set isn’t essential to the overall game plan. It’s no knock on Ward that he isn’t getting the reps anymore. Fans need to understand that it’s a results oriented business and the best WR’s right now are Brown and Wallace. It breaks my heart that Ward will probably nevert be in a Steeler uniform again after this year, but I’d rather see him walk away as the player we all know and love than walk away as someone that stayed in way past their prime. In games that virtually decided, I’m ok with forcing some screens to him to get his milestones. He deserves to pad the numbers a little more to ensure he’s inducted into the HOF on the first ballot. There are very few players in this league more deserving that kind of respect.