Najee Harris Looking To Do Something In 2023 No RB Has Done In Nearly A Decade

In today’s day and age, a 1,000-yard season for a running back doesn’t seem like much. Over a 17-game schedule, it’s basically 59 yards per game. A bad running back can stumble his way into that. But sustaining 1,000 yards year-after-year is hard to do. Running backs get injured and tossed aside more than any other position. Having continued success, even 1,000 yards, is an achievement that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

For Najee Harris, he has the chance to rush for 1,000+ yards in each of his first three seasons. And he’d be the first back in awhile to do it.

Should Harris finish 2023 with another 1,000-yard rushing season, he’ll be the first back to do so since Alfred Morris from 2012 to 2014. And Harris would become the first player in Steelers’ history to achieve such a mark.

The wildest stat though is the difference between the number of backs with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons their first two years compared the ones who did it three in a row. According to Pro Football Reference, there have been 75 running backs in history to have two such seasons to begin their career. But there have only been 17 who have done it three times, a massive falloff over just one year.

That’s what makes Harris’ chance feel far more exclusive. And the backs who are in that three-peat club are pretty noteworthy: Clinton Portis, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Corey Dillon, Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson, and a host of other big-time names. About the only name who doesn’t fit is the last guy who’s done it, Morris, who never rushed for 1,000 yards again after doing so his first three years.

While Harris’ numbers have been far from efficient and his snap count was chipped away at by Jaylen Warren in 2022, he’ll have a great chance to join that three-season group. Pittsburgh isn’t hiding its intentions about the type of offense it wants to be. Smashmouth, run-heavy, Harris will be fed the ball early and often. After the Steelers’ 2022 bye week, no team ran the ball as much as Pittsburgh and it will carry that approach, hopefully more effectively, into 2023.

With better health and a strong offensive line, it’s reasonable to believe Harris can finally crack the 4.0 YPC mark this year. If he can do that, he’ll only need to record 250 carries to hit 1,000 yards, an average of just 14.7 carries per game. Sounds easy enough. Of course, having three straight seasons of 1000+ yards usually means three straight years of good health, a rarity for running backs, and missing a month of action can derail that pace.

This will be one of the streaks we’ll have our eyes on this year. It’ll be good for Harris to hit this mark. It means he stayed healthy, that he probably ran well, and Pittsburgh’s vision for the team is working.

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