I don’t think there will ever be a time in history in which Pittsburgh Steelers fans will not insist on the team running the ball. 50 years from now, the running game could be banned, an yinzers will still be demanding that they run da ball.
Despite that distant future, however, the running game still remains an important part of football today, and it is inarguable that the Steelers need to do that better in 2020 than they did a year ago, when they ranked toward the bottom of the league in scoring and yards per carry.
So much of that can simply be attributed to the fact that James Conner wasn’t healthy for most of the season. In fact, it seemed like just as he was getting himself going is when he was injured. When he returned, he showed that he could still be the best player on the field, but he couldn’t stay healthy long enough.
That’s the gauntlet being thrown down for him this season, in a contract year, as the Good Morning Football crew talked about recently:
James Conner. Is this the year? I feel like he’s this guy who has everything going for him…what a great figure. But we’ve got to be on the field and we’ve got to win some games for the Steelers. I just think, when the Steelers are the Steelers, it’s Bettis, Fast Willie Parker, Le’Veon. Those are the teams. As good as Roethlisberger’s been, it has to be James Conner, and this is my question for James. We know you’re really good. Are you special? Because that’s what we’re doing with today’s running backs in the NFL. There’s some really good guys, and then there are two or three guys who are special. McCaffery, Saquon, Derrick Henry, and then maybe Zeke, and there’s kind of this grey area. I want to see if he’s special. I look at him lot like Devonta Freeman. Devonta was very, very good, he got paid, he got hurt, and then he just wasn’t that special anymore, and now it’s a wash. I don’t want to see that happen to James Conner. It’s a big season for him.
I don’t know that Conner can be in that ‘special’ category, but he definitely has the talent to be at that level right below it. does he have the durability? That’s the question, and there isn’t a definite answer just yet. Le’Veon Bell was criticized for his injuries early on, but the has been healthy in recent years.
Regardless of how it plays out, his motivation to prove himself can only help the Steelers in 2020 as they seek a Super Bowl title.