The Pittsburgh Steelers have a Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara backfield on steroids (pun intended), and the time to use them is 2018.
Le’Veon Bell missing offseason workouts has turned into a blessing. It’s hard to see that, now, but as the season progresses, the offense will appreciate the extra reps given to James Conner and Jaylen Samuels, this offseason.
Bell doesn’t need to show up to training camp in order to be a top five rusher. He didn’t show up last season, started the year slow, and still should’ve been the league’s top running back if the Steelers didn’t bench their starters in Week 17.
Worrying about his production after not participating in offseason camps is no more. The coaches, the players and the fanbase all expect their running back to come in with one or two slow starts, and then take off like nothing changed.
2018 could be different for Bell, though. For the first time in his career, he has a running back worth handing the ball to, behind him. DeAngelo Williams was a stud in Pittsburgh, but not someone you needed to take reps away from Bell for. At 32, he wasn’t a part of the long-term plan for the Steelers.
Conner and Samuels are. These two have impressed all offseason, and look to be contributors this season. A second-year hometown hero and a rookie do-it-all star, those are players you want involved in the gameplan. And an entire offseason to prove their worth, which they’re doing fine with, means you can’t ignore them when the actual season rolls around.
It isn’t because Bell is going to lose a step, or because the Steelers are mad at their running back (as true as that may be). You play all three running backs because adding all three to the arsenal makes this offense even more superior.
Instead of only worrying about Bell and everything he can do, you now need to worry about Conner running up the gut or taking it to the outside. Samuels running, breaking out for a pass, or heck, even throwing the ball.
It’s impossible to scheme against three playmaking runners in one backfield. When one of them is the best running back in the league, it’s even more of a challenge. If Conner and Samuels are as impressive as their offseason workouts portray, it’s a challenge no one can conquer.
The time is now to break out the three headed monster that is the Steelers’ backfield. That could mean Bell doesn’t hit 2,000 all-purpose yards, but it could mean the Steelers lead the league in total run offense.
On top of it all, it means this offense now has a wide receiving core that you cannot beat, a quarterback looking for nothing but Super Bowls, Le’Veon Bell, and two other running backs a defensive coordinator now somehow has to convince his team they’ll be able to slow down.
You utilize all three of these guys and there’s no winning for opposing defenses. Isn’t that the goal?