The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.
They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom are starting.
There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.
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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will the Steelers’ run game have success against the Broncos?
This is probably going to be a weekly topic until we start seeing more demonstrative results. The Steelers made it a focal point this season to revitalize their running game, though they were done no favors by their circumstances, retirements, injuries, and free agency leading to a near-complete overhaul of their offensive line, for example.
First-round running back Najee Harris was the centerpiece for their approach to fixing the running game. While he has not been flawless, as would never be expected, he has made a lot out of a little, and has grown each week, with last Sunday being the strongest day both for him as a runner individually and for the running game as a whole.
So far this season, the Denver Broncos are allowing just 3.5 yards per carry, but situationally, there is some give there if you look at success rates of individual plays. Will the Steelers’ offensive line, play-calling, and running reach a sufficient level to be able to take advantage of whatever opportunities they may be given?
If the offense can’t get the run game going, there isn’t much hope for the passing game, either. For one thing, their pass protection is probably going to be lacking, as well. And this is clearly an offense that at this point needs the threat of the running game to open up the entire field, as anything over the middle down the field has been a no-go zone.