If you wondering why Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Dri Archer continually brought deep kickoffs out of the end zone Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, it’s because head coach Mike Tomlin wanted him to.
Tomlin was asked to discuss that decision Tuesday during his press conference and he obliged with a very detailed response.
“I don’t mind being aggressive, particularly in a situation where we are behind,” said Tomlin. “We needed some splash. Dri is a talented guy that is capable of producing that splash. We are not going to live in our fears. We’ll be aggressive. We’re going to make people defend the field from a kickoff coverage standpoint, particularly a team like Cleveland that has a talented kicker like [Billy] Cundiff. They hadn’t covered a lot of kicks. You need to make them cover kicks. They did a nice job answering that challenge, to be quite honest with you.”
While Archer averaged 21.3 yards on his three kickoff returns in the game, all three wound up with him being tackled short of the Steelers 20-yard-line. While the blocking wasn’t fantastic on any of those three returns, Tomlin did say that Archer needs to some improvement in his technique moving forward.
“I thought that Dri could’ve caught the ball square in moving forward and I think that aids us in terms of when we get to the area of combat,” said Tomlin. “One of the returns he had coming out of the end zone he was moving sideways when he caught it and that’s not good fundamentals.”
So far this season Archer has returned a total of seven kickoffs for 129 yards. In addition, he was also allowed to return a punt Sunday late in the loss to the Browns. However, that return resulted in just two yards due to being pinned along the sideline when he fielded a nice 53 yard directional punt off of the foot of Browns punter Spencer Lanning.
By the sound of things, Archer will be allowed to continue to bring out deep kickoffs Monday night when the Steelers host the Houston Texans at Heinz Field. Hopefully he can bust one or two of them for considerable yardage as the Steelers offense could sure use some good starting field position for a change.