The Steelers run defense has taken a bit the last month or so, and they’ll have their work cut out for them this weekend. They’ve allowed at least 100 rushing yards in three consecutive games, including giving up 144 to the Seahawks in Week 6.
The defense was getting gashed in the second half in particular. Alex Collins became the first 100-yard rusher against the Steelers this season. Cameron Heyward talked about just what makes the Browns run game so successful.
“The offensive line is very sound,” Heyward told reporters Thursday via Steelers.com. “Of course Chubb is one of the best backs in the league. You put those two together and it’s a match made in heaven.”
The Browns revitalization of their offensive line over the past few years has been a main contributor to them becoming a contributor. As Heyward mentioned as well, Chubb has become one of the premier backs in football. He’s averaged 104.6 yards per game in five contests this season.
As a team, the Browns sit atop the league at 170.4 rushing yards per game. Chubb’s running mate Kareem Hunt will be sidelined this week with the calf injury he suffered in Week 6. D’Ernest Johnson will serve as the backup to Chubb in an offense that heavily utilizes two backs. Johnson racked up 168 total yards and a touchdown on 24 touches in his first career start against the Broncos last week.
“They’re road graders. And they’ve been together for a good part of the decade. We’re going to have our work cut out for us, but I look forward to it.”
Road graders indeed, as the Browns continue to be the NFL’s best rushing attack in football. They have been able to rebuild that aspect of their offense through a combination of the draft and free agency.
As for how the defense will stop the Browns, Heyward mentioned a variety of things. Certainly, the absences of Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt on the defensive line continue to hurt more and more on a weekly basis. Heyward mentioned improved tackling and staying disciplined in their respective gaps on ways to slow down the Browns. Sunday’s game will be largely decided on who wins that battle in the trenches.