3 reasons Steelers will regret letting James Conner walk
The Steelers have shown this past season that there is not an abundance of talent in the RB room.
Pittsburgh made it known pretty early this offseason that they believe the struggles with their offense stem from the running game. It is not an easy thing to disagree with as for the last 3 seasons the Steelers have failed to rank higher than 29th in rush yards per game. It is not as if there is no hope for the run game in 2021, but the failure to resign James Conner definitely puts a damper on things.
To be blunt, Conner is the only reason the run game has had a pulse in the last 3 seasons
There is no evidence to support that any of the roster’s current running backs have a chance at being better than Conner when he is healthy. A string of unfortunate injuries has made it easy to forget how special he looked in 2018. Many are quick to say that Snell made a leap forward in 2020, but I would hardly call it a step forward. Statistically, Snell’s averages got worse, while Conner was consistent.
In 2020 Snell’s average yards per carry went down from 3.9 YPC in 2019 to 3.3 YPC in 2020. He has yet to reach an average of 4 YPC in a season. Meanwhile, #30 has averaged at least 4 yards per carry in each of the last 3 seasons. No other running back on the roster has done that. Conner averaged an entire yard more per carry than Snell. Conner had 2 more touchdowns and over twice as many yards per game in 2020.
There isn’t another running back on the roster worth comparing to Conner in this case and Snell looks like nothing more than a goalline option at this point. Conner was easily the best player at the position over the past 3 seasons. I don’t see much of a possibility of Snell even coming close to these kinds of numbers unless the offensive line becomes top 5 in terms of run blocking.