The 2021 season has been a rough one for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense. They are on pace to put up the fewest points in a season in which Ben Roethlisberger was healthy since 2012, in spite of the fact that they are going to play an entire extra game. The offensive line in particular has struggled, and the fact that two rookies are starting has been a part of the issue.
Third-round center Kendrick Green has been one of the team’s biggest underperformers, having far more negative games than positive. He loses more than his share of individual reps, and he no doubt knows it. It can be hard to just pick yourself up and move on to the next play. But fellow rookie, first-round running back Najee Harris, helps pick up the whole offense in that regard, he said.
“Najee’s great, even when he should be frustrated, he’s good at keeping himself together”, Green told reporters yesterday. “How’s he gonna keep himself together without keeping himself together, right? Najee’s always good at being level-headed and just staying the course and chipping away. I can speak for myself, he keeps me very level-headed as well”.
He was asked about Harris after the running back had previously talked about how he likes to go up to the different position groups during the game and try to keep everybody fired up, motivated, and ready to go. It’s the sort of intangible quality the Steelers saw in him while he was at Alabama, though its impact can’t be measured.
It can be especially important, though, when you’re struggling individually, and you need to be reminded of your focus. “Things like ‘Hey, next play, you gotta let that go’. Like, literally, you may have a bad day, there’s no point in bitching about it”, Green said. “That next-play mindset, he reminds you of it, so that helps me a lot”.
There isn’t much hope for improvement in the offense in 2021. It’s hard to even predict what 2022 will have in store for them—certainly a new quarterback, preferably one that isn’t currently on the roster. How many offensive linemen not currently on the team will be starting? And will one of them be at center?
Truth be told, Harris is one of the few known commodities moving forward, with another rookie, tight end Pat Freiermuth, being another. Diontae Johnson at wide receiver qualifies, as well, but he will be going into the final year of his rookie contract in 2022 if not extended.
Let’s hope this offense doesn’t test just how frustrated it can make Harris before he snaps and sinks into the misery. He’s not used to this kind of struggling on the football field.