Blocking and tackling. Sometimes the NFL is just that simple. When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ lackluster run game, OC Randy Fichtner says it’s about focusing on the basics everyone’s been taught since Pop Warner.
“We talk about finish,” Fichtner told reporters on a Zoom call Friday via a team transcript. “We talk about techniques and fundamentals to get yourself into that position where you can explode on somebody and you can continue a drive block and not be a one trick pony and get one pop and then next thing you know the guy is jumping on the pile trying to strip the ball out, just another hit that one of our backs doesn’t have to take. It’s finding that little bit of edge to maintain a block.”
The Steelers’ run game has struggled for weeks on end. Though they closed out Wednesday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens via the run and Mike Tomlin praised Benny Snell’s performance, he still was far from satisfied with the run game overall. A clear jab at an offensive line not getting the job done.
It’s one reason why Ben Roethlisberger has attempted 40+ passes in four straight games despite the Steelers winning all four of those. And why they’ve passed the ball in several 3rd/4th and short situations. Against the Ravens, the team failed on a pair of 4th and 1 conversions. They threw each time. One resulted in an end zone interception and the other was a pass broken up intended for Chase Claypool.
Pittsburgh proved capable of running the ball early in the year. Through the first four months, they averaged a healthy 4.5 YPC and rushed for 100+ yards in every game. Since, they’re averaging barely over three yards a carry and only twice gone over the century mark.
Fichtner made it clear the line aren’t the only guys who have to do a better job finishing their blocks. Running the football is team job.
“That goes for receivers. That goes for tight ends. That goes for anybody blocking for a running back. We have to keep pushing it. Our guys understand it. I think if we keep them fresh as best as we possibly can, I know game day they will give you the best energy, and they have.”
Fichtner said his goal is to keep guys fresh, more walkthroughs and less padded practices, but that’ll be especially tough to do over the next couple of games. Pittsburgh’s playing three games in 12 days with plenty of chaos along the way.