Your newest favorite Pittsburgh Steeler is Nate Herbig. If you’re not convinced, listen to his introductory press conference. An absolute unit with his initials on his chain, Herbig is a throwback to old-school football. Tough, physical, and running the heck out of the football.
Though the answer should be obvious based on his position and appearance, Herbig was asked if he prefers to run or pass block. He answered without missing a beat.
“Run block,” he said in a presser streamed by the team’s YouTube channel. “Because the quarterback can’t get hit when you’re run blocking.”
That’s a lineman who knows his job. It makes Herbig a strong fit in Pittsburgh. No team ran the ball more after Week 9 than the Steelers did, with their 310 attempts leading the league. The Dallas Cowboys were the only other team to run the ball 300-plus times. It wasn’t splashy or part of many highlight reels, but the run attack worked to what the Steelers needed to keep the score down and win games.
Pittsburgh took the air out of the ball after the bye, limiting penalties, turnovers, and controlling time of possession. It was a successful model. The Steelers finished the year 7-2, ending up at 9-8, and nearly squeaking their way into postseason play. It seems they’re using this offseason to build on the model with guys like Herbig, run-game maulers who want to take football back to its roots.
“I love football. I love to play the game of football. I feel like football’s played a certain way and I’m gonna play it that way and I’m happy to be here,” he said. “Old school, smashmouth. I like that stuff. As you can see, I’m built for it.”
Herbig was listed at over 330 pounds coming out of Stanford. It’s likely he’s heavier than that today. Known as “Nasty Nate,” Herbig is a powerful run blocker who should compete at left guard with Kevin Dotson, though he joked he’ll play punter if Mike Tomlin asks him too.
What Tomlin will ask of him is to be who he’s always been. The big man, the tough guy, and the blocker for Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren to run behind. That’s the model the team is shifting toward and Herbig is the first piece.