The Pittsburgh Steelers have recorded 30 or more carries as a team in five consecutive games. It’s the first time in Mike Tomlin’s history that the team has ever done that, yet it’s something that the team managed nearly once every year under Bill Cowher—though, of course, the league was different then.
They are, however, one of only four teams to do it this year, and one of eight to do it in the last three. Even the Tennessee Titans with Derrick Henry only did it once, with a single five-game streak. The point being, Pittsburgh is running the football quite a bit, at levels in terms of volume that we haven’t seen in a rather long time.
And it fits with the messaging that we’ve been getting all year about their desire to fix the run game. They certainly have plenty of work to do in terms of making it more efficient, and frankly, that is probably going to require further personnel adjustments next offseason, but they have the mentality in place.
“We’d rather run the ball than pass the ball, for sure”, rookie center Kendrick Green, who unlike Greg Lloyd, was hired for his disposition, told reporters on Friday. “If people know that, they know that. It is what it is. You’ve still got to line up and run the ball, no matter what”.
As stated, the Steelers have lacked in efficiency, Harris only averaging 3.6 yards per carry, but the actual results on tape are better than raw numbers tell you when you look at the percentage of successful plays that they’ve run. He is coming off one of his better games, rushing for 105 yards on 26 attempts, but Green knows the line’s job is far from done.
“It’s just the same thing every week, honestly”, he said in terms of what their keys are on Sunday in getting the run game going. “We’re just gonna play physical, play with low pads, and we’ve just got to come together and work in unison this week, and Najee’s gonna do what he does best”.
They will have to be somewhat shorthanded, as left guard Kevin Dotson will not be playing due to injury. It’s expected that J.C. Hassenauer, who filled in for him on Sunday, will start in his place. Trai Turner does not have an injury designation, meaning that he will play, after missing 36 snaps last Sunday due to injury.
This makeshift offensive line has had its moments this year, times where even they have imposed their will a bit, their best showing being against a good Cleveland Browns defensive front. They are still trying to replicate that performance, however, and their goal will not be met until they can play at that level, and better, on a weekly basis.