In two weeks, Steelers full-back Najee Harris scored just 72 yards in 25 tries. Meanwhile, the Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been fired 13 times for a total of 73 yards. Harris was so underpowered (3.47 yards per shot) that he scored fewer yards on the ground than the Bengals had lost through the bag. It’s not a good sign for either team, but while I believe the Bengals and their remodeled offensive line will figure it out, I’m not sure the same can be said about Najee Harris.
Thursday night will see Harris’ struggles continue. The Browns are clearly a solid defense with a great No 7 striker. They only allow 3.8 yards per take, the eighth low of 2022 so far, all in the face of Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey, then Breece Hall and the Jets’ Michael Carter, in the first two games. their ancestors. That’s not an impulse. The New York and Panthers’ line of attack certainly is, but the back end itself isn’t.
That trend will continue with Harris and the Steelers. Sure, Jadeveon Clowney won’t be competing tonight, but Clowney’s strength has never been in his ability to block the run. In fact, the third rookie that could potentially replace Alex Wright was heralded for his size, but never able to overcome his haste. Although Wright tends to hang his head when running, that may be something the Browns have worked with him this season. Besides that negative, Wright’s strengths in college came almost exclusively as a full-back winger. There may be a drop in defensive rush from Cleveland, but it’s not as big of a deal as Clowney’s absence might seem.
Since the start of the season, only one has started the Steelers attack – Chukwuma Okorafor – with run blocking level greater than 65, this is not high level. In fact, that’s basically the replacement level. However, four out of five Steelers startups can’t even manage that. It’s not something that will improve dramatically at the end of the season, and for their game against Cleveland tonight, it disaster spell.
Cleveland’s front seven has been spectacular when it comes to fending off runaways in clutch situations. Only 20.5% of the opponent’s dash attempts went down first. It was the eighth best record in the league. Considering that the Pittsburgh offensive line is currently 23rd in adjustable ruler (3.88), Harris probably won’t enter middle school very often. That said, the Steelers’ offensive line is mediocre when it comes to tool rate (percentage of runs encountered by a rearward defender or in front of the line), which means Harris can see positive yards consistently, even without much gain. It would be sloppy, but that’s how Harris can impact the ground, by putting Steelman in 3rd and short-term uncontrollable situations. Obviously, he could have had a much bigger impact in the air, but after two weeks, Harris had only seen eight targets. Plus, in two games of his career against Cleveland, he’s only seen six goals in total. Although, with the addition of George Pickens to the wide collection and the arrival of Pat Freiermuth as an effective short-range pass option, I see it as unlikely that Harris will get more action in the game. tonight.
Furthermore, of the 23 runs backwards each scored less than four yards a take while attacking kicks at least 300 times at the age of 25 or younger, only seven went on to hit more than 1,000 yards the following season, and only two did. that’s since the beginning of the 21st century (LaDainian Tomlinson and Clinton Portis, both 2005). Let’s be clear, it’s still too early to tell, but Najee Harris doesn’t seem to be on the level of either of the two men I just listed.
Harris is clearly an extremely talented individual, but doesn’t have a good attacking line and an average midfield of 5.1. measure for each pass (dead last among QBs with at least 30 passes this year), his impact in matches through ground attack will be minimal. All of this said, I know I rave about the Steelers’ offensive line a lot, but they were able to produce a 1,000-yard cart in 2021 while recording the adjusted yardage. is 3.75. They are doing better than this year, so as long as the Steelers’ defense can keep that underperforming attack in the game, there’s probably hope for Harris to return to form. It just (probably) won’t happen this week.