Steelers News

Captain Najee’s Pre-Game Message To Skill Positions: ‘We Have To Step Up And Make Plays’

Teams ought not to elect captains lightly. Captains are meant to be the leaders of the locker room, so if you vote somebody a captain, you had better recognize him as somebody whom you will listen to and follow.

The Pittsburgh Steelers voted second-year running back Najee Harris as one of their two offensive captains this season, the other being quarterback Mitch Trubisky—that being another topic for another day—and according to Jeff Hathhorn of 93.7 The Fan, he spent some time before the game playing the role of leader.

“I said this group right here, we have to step up and make plays”, he told teammates during a meeting of ‘playmakers’ prior to the game, according to Hathhorn. “No matter what the circumstances are, we have to play better. I think we lived up to that”.

While it wasn’t necessarily a banner day for offensive prowess, it was certainly better than what the Steelers have usually been churning out most weeks. For starters, they scored 20 points as an offense, which is just the second time this season they’ve managed it.

As a team, they passed the ball for 211 yards with two touchdown passes, one thrown by starter Kenny Pickett to Harris—his second receiving touchdown of the year—the other by Trubisky to Chase Claypool, the first by a wide receiver.

Now, the run game didn’t exactly blow the doors off of anybody. Harris, for example, was limited to just 42 rushing yards on 14 carries. Jaylen Warren had two yards on two carries. Claypool, Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and even Steven Sims got in on the jet sweeps, with varying degrees of success. And Pickett did have a 10-yard scramble. But they collectively finished with 77 yards on 29 attempts.

Truth be told, this was not one of the offensive line’s better games of the season, even if against a very good Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive front seven. That’s not even broaching the subject of the numerous penalties, either.

But as to Harris’ point, the playmakers did make plays. Claypool alone made several, and even though Johnson had just five catches for 28 yards, a couple of them were very impressive. I don’t recall a dropped pass on the day, either.

The big question is where they go from here. Yesterday’s offensive effort, on most days, is probably still not good enough, certainly not without a complementary defensive showing. Protecting the football is a good place to start, but they need more consistency and they absolutely must begin reducing the negative plays and unforced errors that are killing so many of their drives.

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