Steelers 2020 season will rise or fall on these 5 players

JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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James Conner Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The Steelers need this ‘thunder’ back to lead the way in the running game

In 2019, the Steelers offense was not very good, to put it mildly.  The rushing attack, or lack thereof, ranked 29th in total yards and was tied for 30th with four other teams in yards per carry. Let’s just call that what was: Awful.  From game to game, there was little consistency in the rushing attack.

I think a lot of that inconsistency had to do with the fact that James Conner, the Steelers starting RB, missed 6 games due to injury.  Conner was only able to manage a lone 100-yard game in 2019 and the running game suffered as a consequence.

Because Conner, in my opinion, is a ‘thunder’ type of running back, a back who has football speed but not necessarily track speed, and because we really had no ‘lightning’ running back on the roster to compliment him when Conner was not available, the running game was simply ineffective.

I realize that the offensive line is partly to blame for the lack of production, but the reality is this:  the Steelers drafted Anthony McFarland Jr., in part, because he is fast and could be the ‘lightning’ to Conner’s ‘thunder’.  So even if the offensive line isn’t having its best game, McFarland may be able to make something happen simply because of his speed.

All things being equal, I believe the Steelers would rather know that we have our ‘workhorse’ in Conner and we have complementary pieces available if needed.  I personally don’t think a running back by committee approach is the way to go; therefore, it is essential that Conner stays healthy and provides the level of production the Steelers offense needs from the running game.