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Steelers New Dynamic Duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren Looking To Deliver Devastating Blow To Rivals In Week 11

Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

Steelers New Dynamic Duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren Looking To Deliver Devastating Blow To Rivals In Week 11

The Pittsburgh Steelers played their best game on offense this season when they defeated the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, 20-10. They rushed and passed for 200 yards and Kenny Pickett played turnover free football. Pittsburgh had four different players rush for at least 20 yards and while Najee Harris carried the ball 20 times, the black and gold let Jaylen Warren run the ball 9 times.

Steelers Najee Harris Kenny Pickett

Abigail Dean / Pittsburgh Steelers

The team was committed to running the football after demonstrating early in the game, they were willing to throw on early downs. Harris ran like a man possessed as the Steelers did a good job disguising what their intentions were when he was on the field. Harris played 50 of the 84 offensive snaps, but he rushed the ball 20 times and was targeted just once in the passing game.


Steelers’ Najee Harris Has Massive Opinion Shift On 2 RB System After Success In Week 10


The Saints initially tried to key on Harris, but Matt Canada did a good job crossing them up early. Warren played 36 snaps, including being targeted 3 times in the passing game. It was nearly impossible for a talented defense to expect this would be the game that the black and gold would stick with the running game. However, it was a huge departure for head coach Mike Tomlin to allow the offense to be unpredictable by actually employing both backs on offense.

Steelers OC Matt Canada and HC Mike Tomlin

Steelers offensive coordinator, Matt Canada and head coach Mike Tomlin on the field at Acrisure Stadium. | Credit: Matt Freed/Post-Gazette

Tomlin for most of his head coaching career has been content to ride one running back during football games. Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall, Le’Veon Bell and last year, Harris were saddled with huge workloads despite the presence of some capable backup running backs. The long time head coach’s insistence on committing to a primary workhorse may not be a willing decision as the second year running back has been slowed by injury and decision making. The rookie Warren has just been too good to keep off the football field.

Steelers Pickens

Jared Wickerham / Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh needs every advantage on offense they can get and having a two-headed monster at running back that has two good receiving targets like Harris and Warren, will make them more potent in the last 8 games of the NFL’s regular season. If teams initially stack the box, and Canada uses effective play-action to loosen defenses that will still have matchup issues with Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth, then the Steelers can give Pickett easy throws early to establish his confidence.

Steelers' Mitch Trubisky

Steelers’ Mitch Trubisky rolls out of the pocket against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. (Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers)

The Cincinnati Bengals defense did a good job in the season opener against Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers offense in Cincinnati. They managed to score 16 points, but with the exception of one drive in overtime, rarely moved the ball. The departed Chase Claypool was the leading rusher for the black and gold as Harris rushed just 10 times, often on first down for 23 yards. The Steelers as a team in an overtime game only ran the ball 22 times for 75 yards.

Fox analyst Mark Schlereth and Pittsburgh’s own Chris Hoke excoriated the team for continuing to pass the ball 40 times per game regardless of which quarterback is calling the plays a week ago. Trubisky had the ball in his hands 41 times against the Bengals in the opener, throwing 38 passes and carrying the ball 3 times in a bland predictable performance. Last week, Pickett had the ball in his hands 38 times, carrying it 8 times and the team ran for over 200 yards. They were unpredictable for the first time under Matt Canada.

Steelers Watt

Abigail Dean / Pittsburgh Steelers

With the return of TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, the defense is as close to healthy this late in the season since the monumental effort of the 2019 unit. The Steelers have the opportunity, if the offense can just elevate to a league average offense, to be very dangerous moving forward. They have four divisional games left, including two against the division leading, Baltimore Ravens.

In the immortal paraphrased words of Rube Baker from Major League II, “When a [team’s] lights are about to go out, the fat lady can’t sing if it’s not over.”

It may not be the slogan that Pittsburgh deserves, but it is one that they need at 3-6 with a hated division rival arriving at Acrisure Stadium at 4:25 PM ET. The Cincinnati Bengals continue to embrace the villain role when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers and on Sunday, let’s hope they make the mistake of standing on the tracks while the train is coming through.

 

What do you think, Steeler Nation? Is the two-headed monster just what the Steelers need to dismantle the mouthy Bengals? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.

I have been rooting for the Steelers actively since 1975. I love the Black and Gold and support them through thick and thin. I am a Navy Veteran, living in Jacksonville, FL and never miss a chance to go to the neutral site games here in Jacksonville. I am new to the Steeler Nation website, but I love discussing Steelers Past, Present and Future.

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