2022 South Side Questions: Will Steelers Make Franco Proud On Field Saturday?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, nearing the end of the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the year. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in the scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Will the Steelers make Franco Harris proud with their performance on the field Saturday?

This past week has been a whirlwind, and that’s without even considering the fact that Christmas is fast approaching, as is the inclement weather—for many, the latter is already here. The sudden and stunning passing of Steelers legend Franco Harris has left the football world reeling just as it was set to celebrate him and his iconic moment.

The running back became immortalized with his Immaculate Reception play 50 years ago today. He was set to be the focal point of Saturday’s festivities marking the occasion, culminating in the official retiring of his No. 32 jersey.

Oh, and a game will be played, as well. While he was many decades removed from his playing career, he forged a personal relationship with many on the current roster and even had the privilege of announcing a couple of their draft selections.

With the Steelers and Raiders set to clash, though, the ultimate question is this: can they do Franco proud? That starts first and foremost with winning the game. Winning takes precedence over everything else as they continue to cling to slim playoff hopes.

If they can do so with a dominant run game, though, it would really be the icing on the cake. Barring the Baltimore Ravens game a couple of weeks ago, the Steelers have been much better on the ground over the past month and a half, so there’s certainly hope.

Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, and Benny Snell Jr. all have positive tape out there. The offensive line and tight ends are continuing to grow as a cohesive unit and their run blocking has been steadily improving. We’ve even seen some increased usage of tackle-eligible and fullback usage.

With the block numbers and the end zones painted up like it’s 1972, it only feels fitting for the game to equally be a throwback. And personally, I wouldn’t hate it if everyone came out before the game in No. 32 jerseys. After all, it’d be the last time anyone ever wears them in Pittsburgh.

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