Steelers rookie running back, Najee Harris, has quickly proven why the Steelers deemed him worthy of a first round draft selection. The talent is obvious even when the offensive line struggled most early this season. The kid has a litany of moves and some of the best vision I have ever seen from a running back. He also has power unseen from a Steelers running back since Jerome Bettis. His combination of talents make him one of the best backs in the NFL despite his young age.
The Steelers have also appeared to have found the recipe for success for this offense. Against the Denver Broncos the team kept Ben Roethlisberger’s throws to a minimum and dialed up the rushing attack. This hid a lot of Roethlisberger’s flaws in his advanced age, as well as chewed up a lot of the game clock keeping the defense fresh. In the game, the Steelers rushed the ball more than they threw it, and any time they can manage this type of balance this year I would expect them to have won the game. Having 34 total rushes compared to just 25 passes also forced the defense to crowd the box and worry about the run, allowing Roethlisberger to hit open receivers all day long.
The key here is for the Steelers to get into the driver’s seat early in games and not be forced to abandon the rushing attack. Starting games off with touchdowns, like they did the past two weeks, is a major key for this team. Having a lead means the Steelers can play the game they are built to run. Even if the Steelers find themselves in a hole in the first half they cannot allow themselves to get frustrated and start throwing the ball every play. Ben Roethlisberger even played his best game of the year, by far, when his throws were limited. A rating of 120.9 is Roethlisberger’s highest of the year, and he was only averaging a quarterback rating 79 through the other four weeks.
If the Steelers want to win football games, the offense will have to do it differently than how they have in recent years. Getting back to Steelers smash-mouth football means everything to them. They have the back to get the job done, now it just comes down to executing. The Steelers need to put the ball in the hands of their rookie running back and let Najee Harris carry this offense all year long.
But what do you think? Do you agree that the offense now needs to run through Najee Harris? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.