Does Mike Tomlin shoulder the blame for Najee’s early struggles?
Finally, is there specific blame to lay on the Steelers failure to use Najee in the first half of the 2022 season? Sure there are arguments to be made, but are those arguments just scapegoats to deflect blame from the real reason the Steelers misused Harris through the first half of this season?
While the offensive line and Matt Canada’s play-calling play into this. Does the ultimate blame fall on Mike Tomlin? He may have some culpability. If you recall early in the pre-season, he took certain liberties in downplaying the injury to Najee Harris. Stating he had only had his foot stepped on in practice. Then Najee Harris later contradicted that by saying he had suffered a Lisfranc sprain.
Tomlin never indicated Harris had a steel plate in his shoe, which should have been mentioned as a matter of transparency. In short, Tomlin’s handling of Harris’s injury seemed oddly covert for some reason. The question is why? Also, a related question did the quality of Harris’ play suffer early on due to the injury? No one has come clean about how the injury affected Najee.
Still, even if Tomlin had come clean on the extent of his injury, it might not have changed how Harris functioned in the first half of the season. That’s a much harder question to answer and includes much speculation, which we will never have a specific answer to.
The sight controversy surrounding Najee’s injury then leads to another question. Was the training camp decision to try to limit Najee’s workload in the 2022 season really Mike Tomlin’s choice? If so, in hindsight, it seems to have been a misguided decision.
So is ultimately Mike Tomlin and poor coaching decisions to be blamed? Or is Matt Canada’s poor play calling the real culprit, or was a suspect offensive line the real reason?
A more straightforward answer might be that it was an unfortunate mix of all of these factors in the first eight games of 2022. We can not definitively answer this question, and it’s up to the reader to decide where the blame falls if any.