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Fixing the running game is a high order for the Steelers heading into the 2021 season. They ranked dead last in the league in rushing yards per game (84.4) and yards per carry (3.6) last year. Also, in 2019 and 2018 they ranked 29th (90.4) and 31st (90.3) in rushing yards per game, respectively. So, it wasn't a surprise that Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were asked about how they're going to fix the ailing run game at their pre-draft press conference on Monday.
"The improvements in the running game go beyond just the acquisition of additional players," Tomlin said. "We're capable of performing better than we have, players aside. Schematics, formations, the things that we do to give ourselves a strategic advantage need to be improved, and that's some of the things that we're working on."
Tomlin's explanation of the run game woes points to why Randy Fichtner and Shaun Sarrett got replaced by Matt Canada as offensive coordinator and Adrian Klemm as offensive line coach following the 2020 season.
Tomlin is right that schematics and coaching were a factor in the run game struggling in 2020, but it's no doubt that they need better personnel, as well. Their current running back room of Benny Snell Jr., Kallen Ballage, Anthony McFarland Jr. and Jaylen Samuels is arguably the worst in the league. They need to get a feature running back in the draft and hopefully it's one of the big three in Najee Harris of Alabama, Travis Etienne of Clemson and Javonte Williams of North Carolina.
The Steelers also need to revamp their offensive line, as they were horrendous when it came to run blocking last year. They're also projected to have three new starters up front in 2021 with Maurkice Pouncey retiring, Matt Feiler signing with the Chargers in free agency and Alejandro Villanueva expected to sign with the Ravens after the draft. Along with running back, the offensive tackle and center position should be addressed in the top three rounds of the draft.