Three Steelers Defenders Finish with Double-Digit Sacks
In each of the last four seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had two defenders finish with double-digit sacks. They also maintained such a streak from 2008 through 2010; James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley finished the 2011 season with nine sacks apiece. Since sacks were made an official statistic in 1982, the Steelers have never had three players all finish with at least 10.0 sacks in a single season. With Cam Heyward returning alongside a healthy T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith coming off a career season, the Steelers could finally join that exclusive club.
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles had a whopping four players finish with double-digit sacks: Haason Reddick (16), Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham (all 11). Before that, the Buffalo Bills were the last team to achieve such a feat in 2014: Mario Williams (14.5), Marcell Dareus (10), and Kyle Williams (10).
The Eagles’ achievement was only the fourth time this has happened since 2000, so it’s a tough statistic to accomplish. While the Steelers definitely have the horses to achieve it, it’s more likely they have three (or maybe even four) finish with at least eight, en route to leading the NFL in sacks again.
Najee Harris Leads NFL in Rushing Yards
Last year, Najee Harris struggled in the early half of the year, as the offensive line took some time to gel, and Harris dealt with a lingering Lisfranc injury in his foot. By the end of the year, the Steelers were running the ball exceptionally well (albeit against lackluster opponents), finishing with the second-most rushing yards per game after Week 9 behind only the Philadelphia Eagles.
This year, even though the offensive line won’t be as lucky regarding injuries, they are a more talented group that should have better chemistry with each other. Furthermore, they should be directed by only one quarterback who is much more comfortable in the offense. Therefore, Najee Harris should have a decent chance at taking home the NFL’s rushing title.
Sure, Harris will be competing with the likes of Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, and possibly even more names. Harris also is not known for being the most efficient running back, as he averaged less than four yards per carry on his 272 attempts last year for 1034 yards. In 2022, the three aforementioned running backs all had over 300 carries, and all ran for over 1500 yards.
In 2021, Harris and Jonathan Taylor were the only two to carry the ball 300 or more times; Taylor finished with the most yards (1811), Harris finished fourth (1200), and Joe Mixon finished third with 1205 yards on 292 carries. The outlier was Chubb, who only played in 14 games but finished with the second-most yards (1259) on only 228 carries.
But in 2023, with a healthy Harris and a better offensive line, he should be able to eclipse 300 carries and thus be near the top of the leaderboard for rushing yards. Ideally, he should be able to finally break the 4.0 yards per carry barrier. If Harris carries the ball 320 times for exactly four yards per carry, he would finish with 1280 yards. Again, with all the offensive improvements for Pittsburgh, he should be able to break that mark and make a run at the title.