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: How will the run game perform in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns?
By and large, I’m not sure that fans really care about much else in this game. Maybe they’re rooting for T.J. Watt to get a couple of sacks to break the franchise single-season sack record, but in terms of taking something away from this game that could help the team win a Super Bowl in a few weeks, there isn’t much else.
Mason Rudolph doing a great job running the passing game won’t help them next week when Ben Roethlisberger is back in the lineup, for example. We already know that guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are capable of making impressive plays, so that wouldn’t be new information, either. The problem is consistency.
The defense? They lead the league in sacks and turnovers and are top five in points allowed. They’re a good unit, enough to advance to the Super Bowl with if they can put together a competent offense. And having some semblance of a running game is the best thing that they could possibly see today on the field to make anybody feel better about their prospects.
Not that the Browns are a top 10 run defense by any means—literally, they’re not, and they’ve even allowed 200-plus yards a couple of times this year—but the Steelers’ running game has been so bad that even a modestly successful performance would be appropriately viewed as progress.