Whoever said that the player who takes the offensive reigns from Ben Roethlisberger in the 2022 NFL season must be a quarterback? In the middle of Ben’s Heinz Field farewell game, one Najee Harris assumed the role of the undisputed leader of the Steelers offense. Ben handed Najee the ball and the torch on an important late-game 3rd & 2 play from the Cleveland 37 yard-line with Cleveland within a stop and a touchdown of a win. Harris took both and ran 37 yards in a breakaway scamper down the sideline to close the game out at 26-14.
“If you’re looking for a reason to be excited, you have one in your backfield,” noted Good Morning Football’s (GMFB) Kate Adams during her Tuesday morning recap of the Steelers/Browns game. She continued, “Last night he (Najee Harris) said I’m going to take this thing over. Whoever’s in here next, step right up, I’m going to be your absolute best friend.”
Whomever it may be at Steelers’ quarterback next season: Aaron Rodgers, Russel Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Corral, Dwayne Haskins, Mason Rudolph... Guess what? They do not have to be Superman under center next year! Najee is Batman and they may have to play the Robin role.
Look at the Ryan Tannehill/Derrick Henry dynamic for the AFC’s first seed playoff team— the Tennessee Titans. Letting a beastly alpha running back from Alabama lead your team pays dividends. Remember the running game travels well in wintry playoff battles.
The Steelers don’t need another quarterback hero, at least not right away. The Thunderdome of fans that assemble at Heinz Field wants a championship team. Many of the key pieces are there: Najee Harris, T.J. Watt, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pat Friermuth, Alex Highsmith, Kendrick Green, Dan Moore, Jr., Tre Norwood, and Devin Bush (yes, Bush— wait until his second season removed from knee surgery). The scary part is that five of the key pieces are rookies. The Steelers have one of the youngest offenses in the league.
Many people talk of the Steelers and some impending, massive rebuild, but Tomlin and Colbert have been rebuilding “frog in the frying pan” style. Keeping the situation on simmer/low heat, they have crock-potted this rebuild and many haven’t even realized it yet. Of course, the Steelers will need a franchise quarterback when the best opportunity presents itself. However, they don’t need to hit the panic button and reach for “fools gold” in the draft for the 2022 football season because they have No. 22. The Steelers can fill other key needs along the offensive and defensive lines.
On Monday night, Najee Harris was the Steelers’ offense. He had 31 touches for 206 yards and a touchdown. Much of that yardage, 188 to be exact, were by ground and pound. He broke Franco Harris’s Steelers rookie rushing record as GMFB’s Chris Carter stated, “with an exclamation point!” That would be due to Harris’s GMFB’s Angry Run Scepter winning body-plant-stiff-arm of the Cleveland defender.
The Steelers had 299 total yards of offense against the Browns Monday night. To date in Harris’ rookie campaign, he has accounted for over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. Najee was the best offensive player on the field for both teams Monday night as he handily outrushed Cleveland’s RB wunderkind, Nick Chubb 188 yards to 58.
The Steelers will be okay post Ben Roethlisberger. They will continue to win, and continue to realistically pursue Lombardi Trophies.
They have got a loaded ‘22’ in Najee Harris, who is ready to carry the offensive torch right here, right now. He showed that to Pittsburgh and the rest the Football world last Monday night.