In the Steelers’ 23-20 OT win over the defending AFC Champion Bengals last Sunday, one could take away many positives, such as the tenacious play of the defense, while also taking away some negatives, like the injury to star T.J. Watt. Another ugly thing was the performance of the running game, which produced a meager 75 yards as a team, and only 23 for Pro Bowl running back Najee Harris, on only 10 totes. For a team with a game manager at the helm such as Mitch Trubisky, they absolutely need to get more out of the ground attack, and Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada echoed these sentiments earlier today.
“A combination of a couple things, we obviously have to run it more than we did. We have to call more runs to be better at it. We’d like some of those two-yard gains to be four-yard gains,” Canada said earlier today via an official team transcript.
An injured foot to Harris will make that task just that much more difficult, although Harris vows he indeed will suit up Sunday. What Canada is saying is true though, the team needs to feed their workhorse running back more than ten times per game to have any type of success. Harris isn’t a lightning-strike, rip-off-an 80-yard TD type of back, he’s a volume runner, who needs 20+ carries to be successful. When your leading rusher on the day is Chase Claypool off of jet sweeps, that should set some type of bells off.
An aggressive approach this Sunday will go a long way in helping the team offset the loss of Watt, and jumping on the Patriots early and controlling the tempo of the game will go a long way to ensuring the team starts 2-0. And one thing is for certain, come the fourth quarter, defenders aren’t very eager to tackle a 244-pound runner coming downhill at them.
“You need to run it more to run it better, get two yards, four yards, four yards, six yards, etc., but the bottom line is that we’ve got to have more opportunities. I think we’ll continue to have those chances, and if we hit those, it’s a different feel and a different day.”