The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. It was a move that the front office made in an effort to revitalize the team’s lack of a run game. Since the prime days of Le’Veon Bell, the offense has failed to run the ball effectively. James Conner had a few decent seasons, particularly 2018, but the team still ranked in the bottom-half of the league in running offense. He failed to register a 1,000-yard season with Pittsburgh due to a plethora of injuries.
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In Harris’ first season, things didn’t get much better. While he ran for 1,200 yards, it was mostly at an ineffective rate. His 3.9 yards per carry isn’t what you want out of your first-round running back, but it was far from his fault. The offensive line struggled to mesh and create many openings for him on the ground. This season, things have gotten even worse.
Through seven games, Harris has ran the ball 100 times for 329 yards (3.3 YPC) and just one rushing touchdown. Harris’ 65 rushing yards on Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins was actually his second-best total on the season. While the offensive line has had their fair share of growing pains in 2022 once again, the star running back hasn’t looked quite the same. The foot injury that he suffered in training camp seemed to have plagued him early in the season, as he’s looked a little bit better the past two weeks.
On Wednesday, former Steelers offensive guard, Ramon Foster appeared on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon. When talking about the current state of the team’s inept offense, Foster discussed several reasons as to why the run game has been ineffective. While he acknowledged the offensive line continues to try and gel, as well as Harris failing to hit open holes at times, there’s one thing that stands out above all.
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“It’s a lot of things. First and foremost, it’s a new OL. I look at some of the teams and how they’re setting Najee up, I feel like everyone and their mom can tell Najee is about to get the ball. It’s become kind of predictable. If you look at the pursuit of Miami [Dolphins], they could tell where the ball was going. To me, I think a lot of people in Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh fans in general have honestly looked at the playcalling. There are too many dynamic, young players on the offense to have those types of numbers. There hasn’t been an identity built with this run game.”
Foster later got into the ebbs and flows of the passing game as well, along with the turnover struggles with rookie quarterback, Kenny Pickett. Throughout his appearance though, he criticized the playcalling at multiple points. Of course, that ties back to offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. As the Steelers continue to have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, the criticism of Canada continues to get louder and louder.
Foster, who spent eight solid seasons in the NFL which were all with Pittsburgh, added that he thinks head coach Mike Tomlin will have to make a change. That change likely won’t happen until after the season at this point, but a change (or two) is coming. Perhaps the team could also switch things up during the upcoming bye in Week 9.
Steelers offensive coordinator, Matt Canada and head coach Mike Tomlin on the field at Acrisure Stadium. | Credit: Matt Freed/Post-Gazette
What are your thoughts on these comments from Foster? Is he accurate in his assessment in the struggles of the running game? Who do you blame the most for the running game’s struggles: Harris, the OL, or Canada? Share your opinion in the comment section below!
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