Kevin Colbert made sure to state the obvious in today’s presser with reporters. He knows the Pittsburgh Steelers’ run game was abysmal in 2020 and must be corrected for next season.
Here’s what Colbert said on the Steelers’ rushing “attack,” via the PPG’s Gerry Dulac.
Colbert on overhauling the run game: "The group of guys we had last year did not produce a good running game. To put out the type of running game we did, nobody was good enough."
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) February 17, 2021
Pittsburgh finished last in many run game categories last season including rush yards and attempts. They had the league’s third-lowest run success rate to at just 47%. Looking at their performance after the first month of the season and the numbers look even worse. Not only did Pittsburgh have a league-worst run game, it was by far the NFL’s poorest. From Week 7 to the end of the regular season, the Steelers averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, predictably dead last in the league. The next closest were the Atlanta Falcons at 3.5.
Overhauling and improving the offensive line and run game are likely to be areas the team will focus on this offseason. Offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett was “parted ways” with. Longtime coach Chris Morgan was brought in to serve as an assistant line coach. And the Steelers figure to aggressively find a new running back in the offseason, letting James Conner hit free agency.
Pittsburgh’s reportedly shown plenty of interest in Alabama RB Najee Harris, who could be in play with the team’s #24 pick. There’s also likely to be plenty of movement along the offensive line, too. Alejandro Villanuea is likely to walk in free agency, Maurkice Pouncey already retired, while Zach Banner, Matt Feiler, and Jerald Hawkins are all scheduled to be free agents. Banner’s return, though, seems certain, potentially as the team’s starting LT in 2021.
The Steelers’ complete lack of a run game last season was one reason why their offense wasn’t sustainable. They struggled in all situations, especially in short-yardage, forcing Roethlisberger to throw over 600 times in 15 starts. In terms of yards per carry, Pittsburgh hasn’t had a run game that finished in the top half of the league since 2016, when they came in 15th place. They haven’t been top ten since 2015.