You know rookie running back Najee Harris, the Steelers’ most recent first-round pick out of Alabama last April, can run hard.
I know Harris can run hard. Everyone knows Harris can run hard.
I mean, the way Harris pushes just about every pile he finds himself in, it’s quite apparent that the youngster will never be a part of an online meme making fun of him for skipping leg day.
Many of the 188 yards that Harris gained against the Browns at Heinz Field on Monday Night Football were of the “tough” and/or “hard” variety. Such has been the case during the Steelers 2021/2022 regular season when holes opened up by the still-under-construction offensive line have been few and far between.
In its defense, the Steelers line, one that had plenty of new faces replacing the new faces on Monday, played perhaps its best game of the current campaign. Let’s be real, I dno[‘t care how hard Harris usually runs, nobody is averaging 6.7 yards per carry with little or no room to work with.
Anyway, let’s get to the point of this article, shall we?
The play I was most impressed by Harris on Monday night was the 37-yard touchdown run that iced the game and allowed the Big Ben Tribute to continue with no regrets. Why did I enjoy that play most of all? Because Harris had done very little up until that run to demonstrate that he had true game-breaking abilities as a running back.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Harris’ run proved without a shadow of a doubt that he has breakaway speed. It didn’t because he doesn’t. But Harris doesn’t have to be a track star as a running back. He just has to prove that he can run very far on occasion, a threat that will surely keep teams honest when deciding how to defend him.
Yes, I know that Cleveland, facing a third and two and only down by five points after scoring a late touchdown, sold out to stop the run, but Harris still had to outrun the defenders chasing him once he broke through the box and got out into the open field.
Back to defenses and how they’ll decide to game plan for Harris moving forward.
That’s going to become a thing once Ben Roethlisberger, who still has one more game to play, is home watching Steelers games from his man cave.
Harris is about to become the most vital component of the Steelers offense, whether he likes it or not, and he’s going to be the weapon that the unit is built around starting in 2022.
Heck, you might say he’s that already, but it’s hard to say such things when No. 7 is still such a huge presence in the locker room and on the field.
The Steelers are going to need Harris to be the superstar running back they drafted him to be. Unless they really do go out and Aaron Rodgers or luck out with a stud first-round pick at quarterback, Harris is going to be the biggest reason why the Steelers win or lose football games in the near future.
You know how I know? T.J. Watt is likely going to break the NFL’s single-season sack record and go on to be named Defensive Player of the Year and it still probably won’t be enough to get the Steelers into the playoffs.
The Steelers are losing a franchise quarterback, and now they need Najee Harris to step up and become a franchise running back.