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Steelers Make Important Changes to Run Game



Steelers RB Jaylen Warren
Steelers RB Jaylen Warren scampers against the Tttans, Nov. 2, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Welcome back, Steelers rushing attack. After a hibernation that lasted through their bye week, Pittsburgh’s got a running game, or at least it appears they do. In two of the last three games, Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris have found room to run, and against a solid Titans front, the offensive line moved bodies and created displacement. Once that got going, they even worked in some play-action.

All in all, the team finished averaging 5.5 yards per carry on 30 rushes for 166 yards with multiple explosive runs. You can attribute that to the addition of Broderick Jones, but one man alone did not change what happened on Thursday on the ground. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada went down to the sidelines, but he also made a simple change in the rushing attack. Left tackle Dan Moore Jr. talked about simplifying the run game, with less minutiae, and a lot of that came down to using the group’s athleticism and getting them moving on pulls.

“Yea, we went in there wanting to run what we did well,” Moore said. “Just kind of just narrowing down our list of runs and kind of getting to our bread and butter. It was really just pounding that and dressing it up to make it look a little bit different. Some of that was pulling guys in space.”

Steelers RB Najee Harris

Steelers RB Najee Harris against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oct. 29, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

If you asked the Steelers’ running backs, they would not hesitate to tell you who were the reasons the ball ended up going forward on those run plays. Harris credited his offensive line and handed them an imaginary game ball. Warren echoed similar sentiments.

“Shoutout to the offensive line,” Harris said. “They were a huge reason why we won the game. The holes they created were huge. We moved the ball well because of the game. They played great.”

The rookie class of Jones and Darnell Washington were ample reasons for that boon, too. But it seems like a sustainable model. Pittsburgh has changed from a primarily zone-run team to a mixed scheme over the last few weeks. Canada is doing less down blocking to more gap runs, emphasizing pullers and athleticism. Pittsburgh’s offensive line has pitfalls, but they are an athletic unit. It seems this part of the team could be sustainable, and they need a crutch to rely on offensively while the passing game still falters more often than not.