Decision to limit Najee Harris won’t bode well for Steelers Matt Canada
While the Steelers held their OTA’s, a report came out stating that Najee Harris would have a slightly reduced role in the 2022 season.
Ordinarily, such a report might not cause much concern. Then again, this is far from an ordinary football season for the Steelers. Matt Canada will finally have his big chance to see if he belongs in the NFL as an offensive coordinator.
In this process, Mitch Trubiusky will attempt to get his career back on track after a less than glorious stint with the Bears. Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett will try to prove he is the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger.
In addition, Matt Canada has two new additions to his offense in George Pickens and Calvin Austin. Both have much potential; needless to say, Matt Canada is scheming different ways to involve them in his offense.
While either of these players can step up their game and pay dividends for the Steelers, the likely scenario is that for 2022 the Steelers will go through rebuilding pains and have a lot of highs and lows. Matt Canada will take center stage in the middle of these growing pains. This stage looms large in the recent revelations that Canada’s formations in 2021 were out of sync with everything else.
So the first report out of the Steelers OTAs and mini camp is that Najee Harris will have a reduced role in the 2022 season, although no one has determined how much they will reduce his workload. The report answers one question we have an idea of which direction Canada plans on taking the Steelers offense. It would be a safe assumption that Canada is looking to work the wide receivers and quarterbacks into the running game and will utilize many more RPOs than they did in 2021.
It makes sense that Canada wants success from his new playbook; however, he needs to realize that many of the players in the Steelers offense this season will still need to prove themselves and prove they can run Canada’s offense too. He only has four established weapons in the offense Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Najee Harris, and Pat Freiermuth
Hence we circle back to the growing pain issue. September could be much worse for Steelers fans than was the 2021 season. Trubisky will need to prove himself, and Pickett is still a rookie. Least of all, you do not want to reduce the role of the person who gives you the best chance of winning games.
At least keep the offense balanced; use Najee Harris as your primary weapon to set up the RPOs and other gadget plays Canada wants to run. Okay, to one degree, Harris, despite rushing for 1200 yards, had a slightly lackluster season due to a poor offensive line. Nonetheless, he still showed he has great talent and has the skills for the type of offense Canada wants to run. In conjunction, while the Steelers still may not have a great offensive line, it should, even in a worst-case scenario, be slightly better than last season.
It does not appear Canada wants this. He wants to prove he has some dynamic offensive scheme and that he is some kind of genius. Thus he is not too different from a previous Steelers Offensive Coordination, Todd Haley.
Now when all is said and done, perhaps Canada’s offense will work, but there is an unseemly feeling that Canada is taking a sink or swim approach, and curtailing production from a vital part of the offense does not seem like a clever tactic. If the Steelers limit Najee Harris in 2022, don’t be surprised to see Canada standing in the unemployment line after the season ends.