The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a very precarious situation heading into Week 14. After watching Le’Veon Bell decide to not show up this season, the organization was left with no choice but to roll with James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley as the team’s trio of running backs.
I can only imagine the team had to hope and pray for Conner’s health throughout the season, and unfortunately the injury but bit him in the team’s Week 13 loss to the Chargers at Heinz Field.
An ankle sprain has sidelined Conner for at least the Week 14 game vs. the Oakland Raiders, but possibly for more than that. So, what does the team do now? Turn to Jaylen Samuels as their every-down back? Or take a running back by committee (RBBC) approach using both Samuels and Stevan Ridley?
Either way, NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger did a break down of Samuels’ game, and posed the question whether the Steelers can win with Samuels in the backfield.
Take a look:
.@steelers @JaySam1k is next nan up. 5 th round picks have a way of turning into gold. Was a Swiss Army Knife at NCST and now they need him badly in that role. Look forward to watching the rook this weekend @Raiders #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/23pv5n2LVu— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 5, 2018
The reality of the situation is Samuels is a very versatile weapon, but whether he is ready for every down duty in the NFL is certainly up for debate. Samuels still has a lot of room to grow in the pass protection category, and doesn’t possess the explosion most require at the position.
This is why Ridley being RB1, and Samuels being used as the RB2/3rd down back/specialty back makes the most sense. Ridley is used to getting a heavy workload throughout his career, and Samuels will do best with a little less on his plate.
Can the Steelers pull off a RBBC for the next week, or more, without Conner? Or will this create an offense far too one-dimensional and make for easy pickings for the defense? Let us know what you think in the comments below!