2020 South Side Questions: Will Offense Get Running Game Back On Track?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

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 offense actually get the running game on track over the second half of the season?

The Steelers had a good running game in the first five games of the season. They have not had one over the past four. While they have been able to win with and without success on the ground so far this year, the option of running the ball when it’s beneficial is something that needs to be on the table.

Following a fourth consecutive game in which they were held to under 100 yards on the ground (and three straight under 50 yards), head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that there is indeed an issue with the running game and that they will be turning their attention to it this week. He also expressed confidence that it will be a relatively easy process.

Given that they were actually fairly successful through the first quarter of the year, one would think logically that they wouldn’t have all that much difficulty in simply getting back to that place, when you consider the fact that they have the same personnel available to them. But as always, saying and doing are separate conversations.

One area in which the lack of a consistent run game has been really evident in recent weeks has been their inability to close out games on offense, which has put a strain on the defense to shut down their opponents on the final play of the drive. This is where they were able to shine in the early portions of the season, and getting back to that space would be a huge deal.

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