The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rushing attack is certainly a unit where there is room for growth. Part of the struggles are due to starting running back Najee Harris sustaining a foot injury in training camp that lingered through the first several games of the season, as well as his playing with an almost entirely new offensive line. With seven games of reps together, the hope is that Harris and the offensive line develop the requisite chemistry moving forward. When asked about the natural progression of playing with his offensive line and the struggles of the run game, Harris took full responsibility for the growing pains.
“Yeah, it’s natural,” Harris said when asked about his improved decisiveness in a Friday press conference via Steelers.com. “It was a whole new line. When you go however many games last year, and then me missing all this time from camp. Like I said, it all falls on me just trusting them a lot. And like I said, they did an amazing job this year that just falls on me. So I take full responsibility for that, so I have been more decisive.”
The Steelers’ rushing attack is, in a word, underwhelming. While Harris arguably showed signs of being more decisive, which he had struggled with in the past and earlier this season, he only averaged three yards per carry in the team’s most recent matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A myriad of factors including a new offensive line and Harris’ recovery from injury have played a role in the team’s struggles with running the ball. That being said, Harris declared himself 100% from injury prior to the game against Tampa Bay, and they have had six games to develop chemistry.
All of this is to say the margin of error is smaller and smaller by the week for the running game. As the team prepares to face the Miami Dolphins next week, a solid run game will be essential to keep the ball away from their high-powered offense. Though the team faced a Tampa Bay run defense that had struggled, they did not accomplish much on the ground. As they prepare to face the Miami Dolphins, who rank sixth in ESPN’s run stop win rate, they will need to turn it around for more reasons than one.
Harris taking responsibility for the team’s struggles is a veteran move, as it avoids any unwanted media headlines for the team. For the second-year Steeler and former first-round pick, there are many questions being raised regarding the team’s decision to select him with such a high pick at a position that many contend is expendable. However, there is still time, and Harris has shown flashes of his abilities.