It’s been a while since the Pittsburgh Steelers were a true ground-and-pound, hard-nosed team to deal with on a week-to-week basis.
Some of the recent moves in free agency by General Manager Kevin Colbert show that the Steelers might be trending back in that direction post-Ben Roethlisberger, especially the signings in the trenches of veterans Mason Cole and James Daniels.
Both are good run-blocking linemen that prefer to run the football and get nasty in the trenches, rather than throwing the football 40 times a game. Add in the signing of quarterback Mitch Trubisky and what he can bring with his legs, the Steelers could do a complete 180 and lean heavily on a rebuilt run game led by second-year running back Najee Harris.
Cole, who sat down with WDVE’s Mike Prisuta for Steelers.com after signing with the Steelers, stated that the goal of the rebuilt offensive line group is to get the football to Harris, run the ball effectively, and win a lot of games in Pittsburgh, making a play on the hearts and minds of many old-school Steelers’ fans.
“…Our goal this year and every year will be to rush the ball effectively to protect the quarterback and win a bunch of football games for this organization,” Cole said, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page.
Cole’s comments come just months after he played a significant part in the Minnesota Vikings running roughshod all over the Steelers’ defense in a Thursday Night Football primetime matchup in Minneapolis, ultimately leading to him landing in Pittsburgh on a three-year, $15.75 million deal.
Of course, Cole cleared lanes for one of the top running backs in football in the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook, a perennial Pro Bowler and consistently up there in the league leaders in rushing yards each and every season. Now, Cole will get a chance to block for the next up-and-coming running back in Harris, who earned a Pro Bowl berth in his rookie season, set the Steelers’ single-season rookie rushing record and was a consistent workhorse running back stepping right into the NFL coming out of Alabama.
“Everybody knows Najee after one year already,” Cole said. “Being in Minnesota last year, I dealt with a very similar guy in Dalvin Cook. I think Dalvin and Najee are very similar. Being able to just turn around and feed a guy like that the rock, I think, is huge and can make a big difference, and it’s our job to make that happen for him.”
The Steelers certainly turned around and handed Harris the rock a ton in 2021, though success was hit or miss due to the moving parts along the offensive line and the lack of high-end talent in the trenches. Now though, the Steelers have seemingly corrected part of the problem in the trenches, which should help the black and gold get back to a physical style of play moving forward.
That is something Cole and the rest of the offensive line room is looking forward too in 2022.
“That’s what playing offensive line is all about,” Cole said. “You can talk about pass protection and all that stuff, but offensive linemen want to run the ball and that’s our goal. With a back like that, and in this division, and in the NFL, you’ve gotta run the ball to win games. It will always be a big part of winning organizations.”