By Committee Backfield Paying Dividends for Steelers
(Photo via G Fiume/Getty Images)
It’s been a fun couple of weeks to see the offense at work for the Steelers. To steal a basketball term, they have been playing “whoever offense” out there. It’s a combination of what the defense is giving and whoever is the hot hand for the team.
In the receiving game Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Eric Ebron have been the top receiver for Ben Roethlisberger in the first three weeks. Though with the Steelers receivers and tight ends, you expect a different lead player there.
The questions for the Steelers were for the running backs. How effective could their running back quartet of Conner/Snell/Samuels/McFarland be? Can James Conner stay healthy enough to contribute? Who would step up if he ever got hurt?
For all the worries about running backs, the Steelers are 10th in rushing yards per game and are the lone team to have 100-yard rushers in the first three weeks of the season.
In Week 1 against the Giants, after Conner left the game with an injury, Benny Snell stepped up and delivered a 100-yard performance. Week 2, the Steelers ever trusting in Conner, the “bell cow” was rewarded with a 100-yd performance against the Broncos and a repeat performance last Sunday against the Texans.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin reiterated his plan to use Conner as a feature back but mentioned that it doesn’t mean he’ll be the only carrier.
"As we distribute carries and particularly as we find our rhythm in the game that will include him unless somebody else has an unusual hot hand.”
Benny Snell wasn’t able to recapture his performance in the next two weeks. Recording a combined ten carries for 16 yards the past two games. The Steelers needed someone to step in and take carries to spell Conner.
With 6 carries for 42 yards, Anthony McFarland should prove himself to support Conner and Snell. Tomlin was pleased with his fourth-round draft pick’s performance and said that he was ready to play last week, but the circumstances weren’t there to play him.
“We like the overall trajectory of his game. He has been working hard, practicing hard, and having professional detail in his work. We had trust in his abilities. It was good to get him in the mix. He brings a different skill set than the others, and they complement each other well.”
Jaylen Samuels hasn’t looked good in his appearances so far this season, so it’s safe to say that McFarland seems good to go for a larger role in the coming weeks.