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Buy Or Sell: Steelers Will Have Top-10 Rushing Offense In 2023

With the Steelers’ 2022 season unfortunately now in the rearview mirror, a 9-8 campaign that came up short too late in spite of a strong second half, we now turn out attention to the offseason, and the many decisions that will have to be made over the course of the next several months.

This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense, and both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Decisions about the coaching staff must also be made, as well as who to prioritize in free agency, and what to look for from the outside, before getting to the draft.

These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

Topic Statement: The Steelers will be a top-10 rushing offense in 2023.

Explanation: The Steelers rushed for 1,314 yards in their final nine games, which was the seventh-most in the NFL in 2022 over all teams’ final nine games. They also had the second-most rushing attempts in the same span with 310, showing a genuine commitment to running the ball.

Buy:

It was a pretty simple recipe. Do what works. Running the ball was working in the second half of the year last season, so they kept doing it. In fact, they averaged more than 34 rushing attempts per game, although it tended to come from a variety of sources.

Combine that willingness to commit to running the ball with the prospect of a fully healthy Najee Harris, a second-year Jaylen Warren, and a better offensive line—in growth in Pat Meyer’s system, in individual development, and possibly in terms of personnel upgrade—and you can bet that they will only be better running the ball.

Even though they ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards and rushing attempts, the Steelers still only averaged 4.2 yards per rush, and I believe that’s an area they can improve. Harris is never going to be a breakaway guy, but I think improved blocking will get them more splash and contribute to a top-10 rushing attack.

Sell:

The days of the Steelers being a run-first offense by design are long over. The run-first teams either have a bad quarterback or a quarterback who is exceptional at running the ball and around whom the offense is built.

Kenny Pickett can run, but he’s not going to be a run-game fixture. They drafted him to sling the ball, and they’ll be expecting him to sling it more in 2023. He averaged 30 pass attempts per game last season, which ranked toward the bottom of the league.

And this all assumes the Steelers are simply going to pick up where they left off last season. When does that happen?

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