The Pittsburgh Steelers have a Hall of Fame quarterback. They have an array of weapons in the pass game. And they have an aggressive, panic-inducing defense. The only thing missing is a run game. And it’s a complete lack of a run game. James Conner knows it has to improve and with the playoffs two weeks away, things have to get fixed fast.
Talking to reporters yesterday, Conner says the Steelers need a complimentary run game to contend for a Super Bowl.
“For sure, we definitely need to get the run game [going],” he said via the Steelers’ YouTube channel. “It’s that adversity, it’s things we deal with. It’s not a lack of effort. It’s not a lack of any of that. Football is a humbling game. We’re not going to keep trying to search for answers and do this and that we just got to continue to just play our football and come to work. That’s what we’re going to do this week.”
Pittsburgh’s run game certainly has been humbled this season. By most metrics, Pittsburgh has the worst running game in football. For the season, they’re averaging just 84.4 yards per game (last in the league) and 3.6 yards per carry (also last in football). Those numbers look only that “good” because of the success they had the first four games of the year. Since then, it’s been a major mess.
Conner concluded by giving a very Tomlin-esque answer about his approach to the run game the rest of the season.
“It’s only about the next opportunity. It’s a journey you have ups and down going along the journey. But I’m familiar with adversity. I actually like it. And I’m looking forward to these next challenges getting this running game going and just winning more, more importantly.”
In the first meeting with Cleveland, Pittsburgh did have relative success. Conner ran for 101 yards on 20 carries and the run game found the end zone three times with TDs from Conner, Benny Snell, and Chase Claypool. But success this time around will be tougher without Ben Roethlisberger and likely without Maurkice Pouncey, thrusting JC Hassenauer into the lineup.
Check out Conner’s interview below.