Jaylen Warren has earned a bigger piece of the pie in Steelers offense
The Steelers running game finally got going against the Browns in Week 3, and Jaylen Warren is really starting to show his value to Pittsburgh’s offense.
Pittsburgh’s offense might have fallen flat once again late in Week 3, but we certainly can’t blame it on the rushing attack. As a T.J. Watt-less defense looked tired and gassed, the Steelers fell behind by multiple scores and QB Mitch Trubisky had to try to make something happen through the air. Obviously, the game resulted in a loss, but fans should be encouraged by what we saw on the ground.
For the first time this season, it seemed like Najee Harris was going to be able to get rolling on the ground. He started things off strong and punched in an impressive touchdown in the second quarter. However, Harris finished the game with just 3.7 yards per carry on 15 attempts. Surprisingly, it was Jaylen Warren who impressed the most.
Warren is an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State who has shown consistent flashes throughout the summer and during the preseason. Those now seem to be translating to the NFL stage. While he carried the ball just four times against the Browns, Warren managed 30 yards (7.5 yards per attempt, via ESPN stats.
In addition to churning his feet and breaking arm tackles on the ground, Warren had the best play of the year for the Steelers offense when he took a screen pass for a massive gain in which he showed off his burst and vision. Sadly, this play didn’t count on the stat sheet as it was negated by a penalty.
Regardless, we can clearly see that the traits are there, and Jaylen Warren is ready to carve out a bigger piece of the pie in Pittsburgh’s underwhelming offense.
Steelers must use Jaylen Warren more
Let’s address the big negative play that you are probably thinking about right now. Jaylen Warren did have a fumble on this play after an impressive run he bounced to the outside. While Diontae Johnson was fortunately there to pounce on the ball, this could have proven costly (under the right circumstances). We know how much Mike Tomlin desires the ability to hang onto the football, and this was an issue during training camp for Warren.
However, Warren’s ball security issues should not be enough for the Steelers to hardly use him on offense. This young running back has been very impressive with his limited looks early in the season. In fact, I would go as far as to say that he is outplaying Najee Harris right now despite the same circumstances and behind the same offensive line.
On film, Warren has been noticeably quicker and more explosive through the whole than Najee, and he still has showcased similarly impressive contact balance. Additionally, Harris had some pretty poor reps in pass protection. In terms of their Pro Football Focus grades against the Browns, Warren earned the 4th-highest grade on the team with a score of 78.0, while Harris was 8th with a grade of 65.8.
Obviously, if ball security continues to be a problem, the Pittsburgh Steelers will have to adjust accordingly, but for now, it’s hard to say that Jaylen Warren doesn’t deserve a much bigger cut of the workload than what he’s receiving so far through 3 games.