In the first game of his career, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Dri Archer logged a total of 15 snaps on opening day during the 2014 season. In the Steelers’ last game of that season, he logged a career-high 31 snaps in the team’s postseason loss. He logged just three snaps for the Steelers on the opening night of his second season.
Which means that, one game into year two of this experiment, we are still no closer to understanding how Todd Haley and the Steelers offense intends to use his skills—unless, of course, this is how they intend to use his skills.
Or what they think of his skills, anyway. After all, the Steelers were without Le’Veon Bell, and fullback Will Johnson got four carries during the game. Archer did not receive a single touch, nor even a target, in his three snaps.
All three of his plays came on the Steelers’ final drive, on each case taking the position of running back. On the first two snaps, however, he motioned out of the backfield and flexed out wide.
On the first play, Archer carried out a nine route, the Steelers hoping to utilize his speed at least to open up the middle of the field. On his second snap a couple of plays later, he instead ran a crossing pattern over the middle, but was not targeted. On his final snap on the next play, he stayed in to block before leaking out to make himself a target.
Of course, he did have one kick return, which failed to reach the 20-yard line in large part because of blocking failures in front of him, but he made no effort to bounce the return outside, though he surely was anticipating his blocker carrying out his assignment, which would have prevented the need to freelance.
We already knew that the Steelers would give Archer the opportunity to contribute on special teams, however—which he did, on a 22-yard kick return to the 17-yard line. What we still have yet to learn is what, if anything, he can contribute on offense.
And some might wonder if he has only one game left to show it, because Bell is returning from his suspension after the following game, and they will need to open up a roster spot to activate him.
If Archer is just going to get three snaps and not even receive a single touch, then he is not serving much of a purpose on this team, regardless of how he is performing when he does touch the ball. The simple fact of the matter is that the Steelers are not using him.
Of course, if he does get much playing time next week, it may be an indication that his roster spot is in jeopardy and they are giving him an opportunity to keep his spot. A couple of halfway decent kick returns, at the very least, would be nice to see.
Beyond that, it’s hard to see why the team is keeping him around, and that is without even making an evaluative judgment of his offensive performance. They can’t even get him on the field, and this is without two of their three biggest weapons.