Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward joined Good Morning Football Tuesday and gushed over the addition of running back Najee Harris.
“I think as a defender, we’re most excited to have him,” Heyward said. “Having a guy like that that can tote the rock 30 to 40 times a game really puts an ease for the defense. He can do multiple things. I think the investment in our offense this offseason has been huge.”
While Harris will almost assuredly not be carrying the ball 30 to 40 times on a regular basis, the balance he will add to Pittsburgh’s offense will in turn benefit Heyward and his counterparts on the defensive side.
“I think we lost a lot of gas as we went down that stretch,” Heyward said. “I think our balance between our offense and defense wasn’t great. We weren’t getting off the field as much we were earlier in the season, and then our offense couldn’t sustain drives. You compound all that together, and it wasn’t a great success. Going forward, I think we can continue to keep growing.”
Heyward claims his defense was not getting opposing offenses off the field quickly enough, but he is being far too modest in an attempt to share the blame.
The Steeler defense allowed the fewest plays per drive to opponents in the league last year and surrendered the second shortest drives on average in terms of yardage.
It was Pittsburgh’s offense that impacted the defense’s performance. The Steelers finished the season 30th in plays per drive and 27th in yards per drive on the offensive side of the ball.
Adding Harris should allow the Steelers to be more balanced and scale back their pass-heavy attack from 2020 significantly. That in turn will keep Heyward and his compatriots off the field more and for longer.
Harris is not the only addition that has Heyward excited. He feels the pieces Pittsburgh has acquired this offseason keeps them as the team to beat in the AFC North and a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2021.
“We’ll have a lot of new, young guys in,” Heyward said. “But we can be better because of it. I still think we have the team to do it. It’s up to us to prove it. No one’s giving us a chance. Everybody’s ready to find somebody new, but until somebody beats us and is the new division winner, we’ll see. We’re not just worried about the division winner. We’re trying to be a Super Bowl champion, and that team hasn’t been crowned yet.”