Larry Ogunjobi is helping his new team beat his old team. He’ll kick off the 2022 season by facing the team he spent 2021 with, the Cincinnati Bengals, and he’s giving all the tips and help he can offer to help the Steelers prevail this weekend. Running back Najee Harris spoke to reporters Friday and said he’s picked Ogunjobi’s brain on how to find running room against the Bengals’ front.
“I talked to him a couple times,” Harris said via the team website. “He was obviously on the d-line, so their front and some of the tendencies they do, especially he was at the nose sometime and he would just walk the center back. I was telling him, I don’t wanna say on film, but there’s some stuff that we do that we’re planning on [using]. And he helped out a lot on that stuff.”
Of course, the Steelers should have a good idea of the Bengals’ defensive line makeup considering they see them twice a year. But it’s always nice to glean some inside information over alignments and any possible shifts or checks the d-line has. How they respond to motion and how they align against certain looks.
Cincinnati contained the Steelers’ underwhelming run game a year ago. In two games against the Bengals, the Steelers ran the ball 30 times for 96 yards and zero touchdowns, an average of just 3.2 YPC. Against all other opponents, they averaged 3.9 yards per carry. Far from great but significantly better.
The Bengals run relatively unique fronts, often playing with five defensive linemen against heavy personnel. Last year, the Steelers had no answers. If Pittsburgh wants to break their ugly losing streak to Cincinnati, they’re going to have to do a lot better than 50 yards and three yards per tote.
On the other side of the football, Ogunjobi will look to stuff the run just as he did for the Bengals a year ago. Cincinnati boasts an underrated run game who had their way with Pittsburgh last year, Joe Mixon rushing for a career-high 165 yards in the team’s second meeting. Like the Steelers in 2021, the Bengals have an almost entirely brand new offensive line this season, four new starters, though their group on paper looks a lot better than what Pittsburgh ran with last season.