Keeping the ball out of Najee Harris’ hands is bad news for Kenny Pickett and the entire Pittsburgh Steelers offense.
The Pittsburgh Steelers plan on limiting Najee Harris’ touches, which is bad news for Kenny Pickett and the rest of the offense.
Pittsburgh used a first-round pick on the former Doak Walker winner out of Alabama last spring. Harris did lead the NFL in touches and offensive snaps a season ago, but the Steelers need him to be the focal point of their offense now. Unless they believe Mitch Trubisky can be a Pro Bowler again, or Pickett is ready to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, what are they doing?!
Here is what Harris said about the matter on Tuesday prior to the beginning of Steelers minicamp.
“We are doing that a lot this year (where) I will not be on the field, I guess, (as much),” said Harris on Tuesday before day one of Steelers minicamp. “I will be on the field a lot — but on certain downs, I will not be on the field. Just (pick my spots), I guess. Extra rest.”
While Harris comes across as a team player, he is agreeing with this sentiment a tad reluctantly.
“I am taking time off,” continued Harris. “I will not be on the field for certain plays. We’re still going to talk about that, though. I do want to play. A lot. … Any time I can. But at the same time, it’s all about being smart. So I understand where (Steelers offensive coaches) are coming from.”
The Steelers earned the right to have a down year, but they have little margin for error this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers fans are not going to like the plan of attack for Najee Harris
The Steelers play in arguably the most competitive division in football. If you need proof of that, just look at who won the AFC North a year ago (Cincinnati Bengals) and who finished in fourth place (Baltimore Ravens). Depending on how the Deshaun Watson situation shakes out with the Cleveland Browns, there is a chance all four division rivals could vie for playoff spots this season.
While Trubisky did help the Chicago Bears reach the playoffs twice during his four years with the team, they did not have very much success once they got there. In short, a team led by its defense did not have the horses to win playoff games on offense with Trubisky at the helm. This is why he is on his third team in as many years. Pittsburgh’s only hope is for Pickett to become a superstar.
The sooner Pickett can play like he did at Pitt last season, the better it is for the Steelers. He may only be a slightly more athletic version of Matt Ryan, but Matty Ice did lead the Dirty Birds to the postseason in his first year with Atlanta. If he is the guy, we need to know sooner rather than later. Not leaning on Harris, who is very much in his NFL prime, is a great way to waste everyone’s time.
Admittedly, Pittsburgh is a fringe playoff team as is. The Steelers are more likely to finish in last in the AFC North than win the division this fall. Though their defense may be fantastic, the offense is not going to score enough points with Trubisky starting games and Harris being limited in the backfield. Yinz don’t need to be afraid! Open it up and allow Harris and Pickett to flourish together.
By limiting Harris’ snaps, all the Steelers will be doing is limiting their ceiling as a team this season.