BALTIMORE — The Steelers offense is hitting its stride, largely because the run game works so well. They are forcing teams into coverages they want to see, and attacking those looks in the passing game. Once they try to play that back, Pittsburgh can keep pounding the football. It’s a cyclical thing, but it works so well for Pittsburgh. But it’s all behind on big change.
The Steelers have entirely changed their run scheme late in the season. Once a team that first focused on mostly zone runs, like inside zone and split zone, the team has switched to a gap scheme with one-back power, counter, dart, and other schemes that have put the Steelers’ offense downhill and on the move. It fits with the personnel. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are hard-hitting runners that teamed down. Meanwhile, linemen like Broderick Jones, James Daniels, and Isaac Seumalo are athletic and smooth in space to work on those.
“You know, I never thought about it like but you might be right,” Jones said. “It does fit who we are and what we do well. I think there’s something to that.”
Warren and Harris progressively wear down opponents, and they feel the effects of their consistent one-two punches within these concepts. It all clicks. The Steelers ground and pound, play ball control offense, and can neutralize team’s opposing offenses while wearing their defense down the field.
“Yeah, I feel like that complement really works together for us,” Warren said. “We can feel teams start to wear down. Najee and I feed off each other.”
Matt Canada had an idea for his scheme but started to find where this group really worked. Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan have started to find the groove of what this team wanted to do on the ground. Their switch to these gap scheme was motivated by the teams they were facing in recent weeks. Jones told me that he felt like many of the teams they faced recently were reactors at the second level, and so they could wrap around and hit the alley well. But it just fits them better, too.