The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers manage to get the run game going against the Cincinnati Bengals?
The Steelers have been one of the worst teams running the ball so far this season. The Bengals have been one of the worst teams stopping the run so far this season. Something has got to give, no?
The Steelers as a team so far have just 192 rushing yards in three games, albeit on 51 attempts, an average of 3.8 yards per attempt, with one score. James Conner accounts for 97 yards and the lone score on 34 rushing attempts, while nobody has more than five attempts.
That would be Jaylen Samuels, at least among the running backs, who has 22 yards on the ground. Quarterback Mason Rudolph has five scrambles for 22 yards as well. Rookie Benny Snell is up to four carries on the season for 29 yards, 23 of which came on his first-ever touch, a third-down conversion.
The Steelers have also used Johnny Holton and Diontae Johnson on end-arounds so far this season, to moderate success. They may have to continue to be more creative to generate offense and the potential for explosive plays.
But, as mentioned, things have not gone well for Cincinnati. They have allowed 506 rushing yards on 103 attempts, surrendering an ugly 4.9 yards per attempt, and having given up four rushing scores. Their passing defense has put up better numbers, so having success on the ground could be key in this game.