A Thursday Night battle between two AFC powerhouse kept fans entertained until the final minutes. Bill Belichick's group played well despite their struggles throughout the campaign. An explosive first half from Bailey Zappe put the Pittsburgh Steelers behind early. Mitchell Trubisky did his best to rally his teammates to a win but fell short on the offense's final possession.
Najee Harris finished the game with 29 rushing yards. Is he part of the Steelers' offensive problems?
Pittsburgh Steelers need more from Najee Harris
Football is a sport of continuous innovation. Schemes, players, and coaches adapt to the game they love. The winning formula for the Steelers is one of the few things that remain the same. Dominant rushing performances and stout defensive outings have led the franchise to multiple Super Bowl victories. Opposing Defenses have not feared a Pittsburgh running back in years. Najee Harris is a dangerous rusher but fails to save Mike Tomlin's unit from drowning.
In 2021, the Steelers used their first-round draft pick to jumpstart their rushing offense. Omar Khan invested in a powerful running back from the University of Alabama. Najee Harris was a top prospect in his draft class and appeared ready for NFL action. He received a heavy workload during his rookie year. His 353 carries resulted in 1,200 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Harris helped Pittsburgh clinch the playoffs, but they've failed to return since.
Pittsburgh Steelers will miss the playoffs without establishing the run
Hiccups in productions are costing the third-year running back a future. Harris has experienced multiple setbacks since joining the league. It's forcing Pittsburgh to look elsewhere for answers. Jaylen Warren is making the most of his carries this campaign.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy earned a role within the offense despite Pittsburgh's original intentions for their all-purpose back. In 2021, Harris was a top-five rusher (4th) in the NFL. He dropped to 13th (1,038) and 16th (690) after Thursday night.
Splitting carries between an unrestricted free agent and a first-round pick was not in the plans. The new rotation helped the Steelers find an identity in the midst of troubling times but is not the band-aid for this wound. Harris and Warren earned high rushing grades against the Bengals and Browns. Their production gives the offense a different dynamic but does not add wins to the column.
Consecutive losses to franchises with losing records are unacceptable for Yinz fans. A decision to part ways with Matt Canada was the short-term solution to an ongoing problem. Eric Faulkner took over as the interim offensive coordinator but has yet to see promising results. His group ranks 26th in overall grading (66.8) and 15th in run ratings (77.8) with few games left on the schedule. The Steelers must evaluate their future, starting with Najee Harris.