Najee Harris had a rough week last week, rushing for only 20 yards on 11 carries. While some are calling for his playing time to be reduced due to lack of production, Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive coordinator Matt Canada does not agree. Instead, he believes it is vital to get the former first-round draft pick in a rhythm.
“It’s really important to get our run game going and get it into a rhythm. Again, last week, you didn’t see that just based on kind of the way that the game went,” Canada said via the official transcript provided by the team.
Canada does have a point, the game against the Buffalo Bills got out of hand very quickly and led the Steelers to abandon the run by halftime. However, Canada has to be careful to not force the run when it’s not there. Against the Bills, Pittsburgh struggled to run the ball after the first drive, yet Canada tried to force the run. It led to a few quick third-and-longs which were not converted, and helped dig the Steelers into a hole they were not able to climb out of.
Harris is a volume back, so if he can get into a rhythm and impose his will, it will lead to success for the Steelers. However, there is a happy medium there and Canada must not be pre-determined to force-feed Harris the ball if it is not working.
Canada also said today that each game is different.
“But every game dictates something different. Every game is different.”
He is right and I expect him to try and get Harris going early. However, it is vital for Canada to know when it is not working. If he continues to try and force the run when it is not there, this Sunday will just be a repeat of the catastrophe that happened in Orchard Park.
But, if the Steelers can get Najee Harris into a rhythm and take some pressure off rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, then their odds of beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers increase exponentially. The Steelers are a better football team when Najee Harris gets in a rhythm, and Matt Canada is trying to get him in that rhythm.