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‘It’s Me’: Najee Harris Blames Himself for Running Game Struggles, Praises Offensive Line

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Steelers RB Najee Harris

PITTSBURGH — Najee Harris knows the Steelers offense is not clicking on all cylinders. The Pittsburgh offense that put up 14 points in an electric effort in the first half walked all of the progress back in an uninspiring second half. In that same second half, Harris only touched the ball on the ground six times. It was a stark contrast compared to the run-heavy first-half game plan.

Harris pointed to himself as part of the reason the Steelers’ rushing attack has struggled. To this point in the season, Harris is only averaging 3.2 yards per carry. While the outside noise is focused on the offensive line, it was Harris who took responsibility for the run game struggles on Friday.

“It’s more about how much I need to improve on,” Harris said. “You know, we’re talking bad about the O-Line everywhere, but it’s not the O-Line. I think the O-Line did a really good job last week. And actually starting with the Patriots, they did a good job of controlling what they can control. It comes down to me. I need to do more and trust them.”

In his rookie season, Harris led the league in forced broken tackles after playing superhero behind a lackluster offensive line. To this point, however, the Steelers’ offensive line is grading out favorably in their blocking metrics. On film, nothing is perfect, but things are starting to gel together for a unit that was once the team’s foremost worry.

Could that rookie year have developed a tendency for Harris to try and bounce it outside to create more where there is nothing? That is certainly possible. So, when Harris talks of trusting his offensive line, he may need to hone in more on simply reading the blocks and playing less like a superhero.

“I just need to trust them more,” Harris said. “You know, we’ve got some really good guys and they’ve done a great job of getting better. We’ve got a really good O-Line, and I see it all on social media and that, how they talk bad about our O-Line. But it’s not them, it’s me. We need to stop focusing on them and focus on me rather.”

Najee Harris came to the defense of the offensive line and put the onus on himself. Not only did he defend the offensive line, but he stuck up for both quarterback Mitch Trubisky and offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Harris believes the Steelers’ offense needs to work better as a collective. It is on them as individuals to execute the offense as called, and that is what is lacking at this point.

“The playcalling, all of that, is fine,” Harris said. “It’s just us executing. You guys keep blaming other people. It’s us in this locker room.”

The Steelers’ offense needs to come around. Week by week, it feels like they are inching closer to the answer. Harris believes that focus just needs to come from the group properly. It is hard to argue with that in a lot of ways, as execution has been lacking on a lot of fronts. If they can start to click as they did in the first half a week ago, Pittsburgh could have a competent offense.

 

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