Najee Harris: 'I need a big run'
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
The Steelers run game is still ailing. Even with addressing the running back position by selecting Najee Harris in the first round of the draft, they rank 31st in the league in rushing, averaging 84.6 yards per game. The Steelers ranked 32nd in rushing in 2020, averaging 82.5 yards per game.
Harris is the least of the Steelers' issues in regards to running the ball, however, as their offensive line is just not good, especially in the interior. Harris often makes something out of nothing and gets yards after contact. Fixing the running game is a process, and they're just not built upfront to succeed yet. They need to invest heavily in the offensive line this offseason.
A competent offensive line coach will help, too. New offensive line coach Adrian Klemm is leaving after one year, as it's been reported that he's accepted a position with Oregon to be their line coach. He'll finish out the last three games with the Steelers. With Klemm's expected departure, the Steelers will have three offensive line coaches in three years.
Harris is coming off a disappointing 18 yards rushing on 12 carries against the Titans. It was the lowest rushing yards of his career. The blocking up front for Harris wasn't good, but he also missed a couple of holes in the game.
A big issue for Harris this season has been explosive runs, as his longest run this year is 23 yards. He's the only player in the top 10 of the league in carries who has a season-long run of 23 yards, according to Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Harris wasn't known to be a breakaway speed back at Alabama, either. As he's built more like Le'Veon Bell and is a power-back, who can catch the ball out of the backfield.
“That’s actually a really good question. Of course [it’s bothersome], but that takes a team effort of creating that type of a hole, I guess,” Harris said via Batko. “Have I had that many looks at having a 60-yard run? I don’t think I have.”
The last part of that Harris quote is pretty interesting. I don't think Harris is wrong, either.
“We’re just not there yet, I guess, but we’re going to get there,” Harris said in regards to explosive runs. “It just takes time.”
The lack of long runs has been on Harris' mind, too. As he texted running backs coach Eddie Faulkner on Thursday night, "I need a big run." With this offensive line, I don't know if that will come anytime soon for Harris.