2021 South Side Questions: Will Steelers Consider Personnel Tweaks To Address Running Game?

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 look to be in a starting role (or complementary role in Freiermuth’s case) for the season opener.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. They have a 53-man roster, though it will always change to some degree. 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 consider personnel changes or variations in an attempt to improve the running game?

In case you haven’t noticed, the Steelers’ running game has been pretty craptacular  through the first three weeks of the season—and before I continue, let me just comment on how pleased I was just now while writing this that Microsoft Word did not try to tell me that ‘craptacular’ was not a word. Moving on…

What can be done about the Steelers’ woeful rushing attack? Do they simply have to give it time and hope that things will improve? Will they consider potentially tweaking the starting lineup, or at least a rotation, in attempting to address the issue?

It’s hard to rotate linemen, but it’s been done before, and when you don’t have any starter that is playing well, it’s kind of hard to argue against it on the grounds of it disrupting anything. Zach Banner is working his way back. Can he help make a difference? He’s certainly big…

How about at running back? The Steelers have virtually only used Najee Harris all season, but they have two veteran running backs on the roster. Maybe the rookie can benefit by observing every once in a while and seeing how his more experienced backups navigate an NFL defensive line

The only real option as far as tight end is concerned would be to use Zach Gentry more, and add more run-heavy looks, but they tried that in the first half last week and it…wasn’t great. Of course, they could throw fullback Derek Watt out there.

Will they do any of these things, or make any other kind of personnel adjustment in the coming days or weeks? Offensive coordinator Matt Canada seemed to suggest that they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing, but if it keeps getting the same results, they’ll have to try something.

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