Najee Harris spoke –– and I hope you listened.
Harris, the Steelers’ starting running back, held a scrum with media following his team’s 29-17 Thursday Night Football loss against the Cleveland Browns.
Throughout the interview, Harris discussed the Steelers’ performance, fielding the usual assortment of post-game questions.
Then he spilled the beans.
“I think it’s all of us,” Harris said when asked if it was “one or two” players out of rhythm on offense. “It only takes one person to mess up a whole play, and that goes for everybody.
“There [are] plays where this guy could have done this and there’s another play where this guy could’ve done this better, but we’re just finding our cohesion and coming together.”
That speaks volumes. On one hand, this could look like Harris simply giving a PR-friendly answer. You win and lose as a team, after all. Why single somebody out?
Fact is, this Steelers’ offense has problems across the board.
Harris’ comment wasn’t just riding the fence. It was brutally honest.
Offensively, the Steelers rank 28th in the league with just 273 yards per game. They rank ninth in total passing yards –– but oh yeah… they’ve played three games.
The Browns –– the other team with three games under its belt –– rank sixth in that metric. Seven teams out-pace the Steelers here despite spotting them 60 minutes of game time to run up the score.
The rushing metrics aren’t much better. The Steelers rank 20th in yards per carry and 22nd in yards per game. Points per game? Twenty-second (and that’s with a pick-six from Minkah Fitzpatrick in Week 1 included).
It’s easy to blame the coaches, specifically offensive coordinator Matt Canada. The team is brutal to watch on third down, converting just one-third of its tries (tied for 20th in the NFL). They’re not producing splash plays at an acceptable clip, either.
“I’m not throwing them [the coaches] under the bus, [but] we can only do what they tell us to do, you know, make plays,” Diontae Johnson said after the Browns game. “That’s about it.”
It’s easy to focus your negative energy on Mitch Trubisky, too. After taking over for future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Trubisky hasn’t excelled. You just read the passing stats, after all.
“I think everybody can be a lot better, myself included,” Trubisky himself said after the Browns loss.
There it is again. “Everybody.”
So much of the conversation when dissecting this Steelers offense centers around Canada or Trubisky or the offensive line (which has actually exceeded expectations thus far).
But Harris gets it.
Those conversations happen in a vacuum. We want that clear-cut answer, that tumor to remove. With this Steelers’ offense though, it doesn’t work like that.
It’s silly to zero in on one person. When the performance is this lethargic across the board, you gotta broaden the criticism.
“I [don’t like to] focus on one or two people,” Harris said. “In this team sport, you can’t do that because everybody’s role is important and everyone plays a part into what makes a good run or a good pass play.”
So, yeah, you can talk all about Johnson’s crucial drop.
— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) September 23, 2022
Or Harris’ questionable vision:
— Josh Carney (@ByJoshCarney) September 19, 2022
Or Trubisky missing wide-open receivers:
— BlitzVideos✨ (@BlitzVideos) September 24, 2022
Or Canada simply ignoring, you know, 75 percent of the field:
This is a wild chart pic.twitter.com/xrrKRkb1KX
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) September 23, 2022
But that’s not the way.
Tell ’em one more time, Najee.
“Blaming one or two people is not the way to do it.”