Is it time to panic about the Steelers rushing game?
The Steelers may not be worried about the running game, but Yinz are concerned about it. Just this past Sunday James Conner only averaged 2.8 yards per carry for 36 yards total against the Bengals. Benny Snell averaged 4.0 yards per carry for 12 yards. The total rushing yards the Steelers had against the Bengals was 48 yards. This is against a team that has allowed 133.1 yards rushing per game this season. This won't cut it heading into the playoffs especially if the Steelers want to get to the Super Bowl. Teams will eventually figure out how to shut Ben down and the running game will have no choice but to produce. The Steelers need to get this fixed soon.
One question to ask is why are the Steelers not using James Conner as a downfield runner? Why do they continue to use him on reverses? He does not cut downfield as fast as the Steelers would like him to. It just makes no sense what so ever. More concerning is this was the third game in a row the Steelers have failed to rush for more than 48 yards since Chuck Noll in 1969. There is room for concern, but Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger do not seem too concerned right now.
“We're a balanced group,” Tomlin said. “We can give it to you however you want it. If you want to pack a bunch on the line of scrimmage, we're going to throw it. You play two high safeties, we're capable of running it. That's what I mean when I say we strive to be a balanced group. We want to be able to move it however we choose.”
“I think you have to be able to do it when you need to do it,” Roethlisberger said. “Obviously, we didn't run the ball well against the Bengals, but we did other things well. We put points on the board. We scored when we needed to score. We converted when we had to do that."
Ultimately the Steelers rushing game is very concerning right now, but the team is 9-0. They're winning games so what is there to complain about? Well, this is the third game in a row that James Conner has not gained more than 20 yards on a single play. He did break out for a 16-yard run, but again only ended up with 48 yards rushing. This is not what Steeler fans are accustomed to. In fact, Pro Football Focus has the Steelers rushing offense as the fifth-worst in the NFL. They have also ranked the Steelers offensive line as the second-worst in the NFL as well. That is concerning, but the good news is the Steelers have 7 more weeks to get their running game together. So let's hope they can adjust and fix this soon because it will be imperative for their Super Bowl chances going further.