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Steelers Make Baffling Decisions with Jaylen Warren



Steelers RB Jaylen Warren
Steelers RB Jaylen Warren runs against the Cleveland Browns, Nov. 19, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

CLEVELAND — The Steelers have something cooking in Jaylen Warren. It seems the more that Warren plays, the more he does with the ball in his hands, and he was the signature spark for Pittsburgh against a talented Browns defense. His 74-yard touchdown is just one of the plays that sticks out about Warren and what he brings to the field, especially with the passing game struggling.

But his metrics for the year pop out like a sore thumb. Warren leads the NFL in rushing yards over expectation (161 yards) and rushing yards over expectation per attempt  (2.08 yards). Besides, in terms of missed tackles forced per attempt (0.41), he is near the league in explosive plays from the position despite being at a clear disadvantage. So, why can he only play 28 snaps per game?

Steelers RB Jaylen Warren

Steelers RB Jaylen Warren warms up before the game against the Packers, Nov. 12, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

As the only player doing anything against the Browns’ defense, Jaylen Warren was pulled off the field far too often for any explanation. On the second-to-last drive, Pittsburgh ran a failed screen and a stretch play for a loss of five to Najee Harris, kicking them out of field goal range. With all of that in mind, Warren sat on the sidelines and came out on the last drive, but they called no run play to him, nor did they attempt to get the ball to him in the passing game. In other words, they essentially eliminated their best weapon in the game for the last two drives, but Mike Tomlin is not sure the team has any regrets.

“I don’t. When you’re unsuccessful, you can look back and make a lot of those types of judgments,” Tomlin said. “We don’t live like that. We don’t live in our fears. We don’t second-guess. We live. I stand by whatever decisions, or play selections, or ball distributions we had today.”

Warren Deserves More

Harris is a solid player, and their complementing styles work well in the backfield; there is no doubt about that. I am not asking for Harris to be worked out of the gameplan, but there has to be situational awareness about who your best players are, and those players need to play more. 67% of Warren’s runs were deemed successful against the Browns. But he only got nine carries. That’s taking the ball out of the hands of one of your best and most efficient players.

Warren just has the all-around skillset. He is a masher in pass protection and a sparkplug in the run game. Warren has a diverse route tree as a receiver when allowed to unleash it and can win in space. In other words, he is a three-down player who impacts all game phases. Pittsburgh’s inability to find the right balance to use and unleash him in critical situations was a massive reason they lost on Sunday against the Browns. Their blunders will continue to hurt them until they look at the rotation and find a better split in critical situations.

There may be games where Harris is the one cooking, too. It’s okay to ride the hot hand sometimes. Warren was the hot hand by a long shot in this one. He deserved to have the ball in his hands in the critical moments of the game.

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Peter Pefanis
Peter Pefanis
November 20, 2023 8:12 am

Firing Canada was so obvious long ago. Tomlin should be in that list also. How many coaches who have not won a playoff game in 10 years is still coaching ? This all falls on Rooney who is doing a grave injustice to the players as well as the fans.

November 20, 2023 11:32 pm
Reply to  Peter Pefanis

Preach!!!!! I agree with everything you say Peter

November 20, 2023 8:27 am

That MT lives in fear of turning the ball over is pretty obvious. His message seems to have stunted whatever growth Pickett might have had.

Edward Carmichael
Edward Carmichael
November 20, 2023 9:43 am

as a true Steelers fan, I would rotate both Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris until Steelers Omar Khan can draft more offensive linemen like Broderick Jones in the 2024

Jesus Christani
Jesus Christani
November 20, 2023 11:09 am

“We don’t live in our fears. We don’t second-guess. We live. I stand by whatever decisions, or play selections, or ball distributions we had today,” says Mike Tomlin. I say, “SHUT THE HELL UP!” If one of your biggest supports (ME) will no longer buy the junk that is coming out of your mouth concerning this offense and the severe under-usage of Jaylen Warren then you should start looking in the mirror. Sick ‘em, Tomlin Haters! That was PATHETIC personnel decision making, concerning Najee & Jaylen. This has been going on all season long. It has cost The Steelers points… Read more »