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Steelers Stat Pack: Daniel Jones Outgains Najee Harris?



Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris

The Steelers have now fallen to 2-5 on the season after a 16-10 loss against the Miami Dolphins. However, what do the stats say about Pittsburgh’s loss and overall season? Here are a few stats that can tell the story of a Steelers season that has been anything but fruitful thus far.

Najee Harris’ Stats are Really That Rough

After playing with a steel plate in his foot for the first six games, Najee Harris finally shed the plate. Against the Buccaneers, that never seemed to make a difference. Finally, against the Dolphins, there was some glimpses of the Harris that showed up in 2021. However, the stats still do not paint a good picture. Najee Harris put up -15 rushing yards over expectation, bringing him up to -95 rushing yards over expectation, the work mark in the NFL this season according to Next Gen Stats.

In terms of volume stats, Harris only has 329 rushing yards, which is less than Daniel Jones’ 343 rushing yards thus far on the season. StatMuse goes even deeper into these stats, but Harris also has the worst yards per carry in the NFL as it stands right now.

PFF charted Harris with forcing 5 missed tackles, the highest mark for his season. It seems there is a lack of efficiency here from Harris. But the run blocking is not helping by any means in that department, either. Maybe Harris can uptick his efficiency, but he has not been up to standards yet this year. That is both true on tape and the stat sheet. However, he is not nearly as bad as some of these stats paint him as right now. With the steel plate off, it would be of ittle surprise to see Harris gain some of that juice back he had last season.

Dropped Interceptions…..

The Steelers noticeably dropped a lot of potential interceptions against the Miami Dolphins. That holds true on review, too. Pro Football Focus charted the Steelers as having four dropped interceptions on that. They awarded one to Cam Sutton, two to Levi Wallace, and another to Terrell Edmunds. It is the single-most dropped interceptions that a team in the NFL has registered this year.

How much would the outcome change if the Steelers’ defensive backs had caught those balls? That remains a massive, looming question. But it was undoubtedly a massive factor in Pittsburgh’s inability to get solid field position throughout most of the game.

Canada Loves the Go Ball 

Matt Canada has certain concepts he loves. That includes the shovel pass, jet sweeps, and sprintouts. But in the route tree of the Canada offense, the go ball is something that is so consistently seen throughout the tape that teams will often fan their safeties further out toward the hashes, leaving the middle of the field more open.

According to Next Gen Stats, George Pickens and Diontae Johnson rank in the top four of all receivers who have run the most go routes this season. Pickens leads the NFL with 102 go routes, while Johnson is fourth with 81 go routes. That fits with a lot of what Canada likes to do, but the Steelers have not targeted these routes enough, hence the criticism from Chase Claypool after Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.

Alex Highsmith Produces, But Plays ALOT

Ben Fennell of NFL Network threw this tweet out on Wednesday, and it describes something that the Steelers have done a lot of with T.J. Watt out — rely upon Alex Highsmith to carry just about all of the load as a pass rusher.

Highsmith rarely comes off the field with a lack of confidence in the backup options. Against Miami, Highsmith put up five pressures, bringing his total to 28 pressures on the season. He still has the 6.5 sacks to back that up, as well. Pittsburgh is likely hoping to take some of the workload off Highsmith with T.J. Watt potentially coming back after the bye week. But for one week at least, Highsmith will need to keep up his strong season.