“The Bus” says the Steelers need to re-establish a commitment to the run, or they’re going to lose games they can’t afford.
Who knows better about running the ball in Pittsburgh than Steelers former running back Jerome “The Bus” Bettis?
Bettis, a Hall-of-Famer who plowed through defenders for 10 seasons in Pittsburgh, is “sick” about his former team’s inability to score/convert in short-yardage situations and the deficiency with their run game as a whole.
Like all of us, Bettis was baffled by the Steelers being repeatedly stopped on the goal line in the Washington Football Team loss.
The Steelers were stood up five times from the Washington 1-yard line Monday night.
“I was sick. Unbelievable,” Bettis told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. But he also knows there’s time to fix what’s ailing them.
“You have to work on your deficiency before you get to the playoffs. Their No. 1 priority should be re-establishing the running game because when you get to the playoffs, if you have a weakness, you will be exposed.”
Though the Steelers had a perfect season until Week 13 without much of a run attack to speak of, Bettis says the playoffs are a whole different ballgame.
“When you get to the playoffs, you play complete football teams, and you will have a harder time beating playoff-caliber teams if you can’t run the football.”
Pittsburgh ran into a team — the Washington Football Team — that exposed their incompetence on the ground. Incompetence they’ve had for a good part of the season but could still pull off wins.
One of the best short-yardage backs in the history of the NFL, Bettis knows the one thing that is lacking in Pittsburgh’s run game.
“The only solution in fixing the running game is the commitment,” he said. “You got to be committed to it because once you commit to it then the offensive linemen, they have a different attitude about it, the running backs look at it differently, just the whole offense changes. You can’t just fix the running game with Xs and Os. It doesn’t happen that way.”
To be committed, you must be consistent, and abandoning the run game entirely will hurt the Steelers chances of winning their next four games and, subsequently, their chance at keeping the top seed.
Bettis says once the offensive linemen know there’s a commitment to toting the rock, their approach will change. He also believes the Steelers have the backs to be efficient.
“Between Conner and Snell, you got two tailbacks who can pound the football, OK?” said Bettis. “They came from running schools in terms of what they did in college, so they can do it. Now the problem is you have to allow them to do it.
It all goes back to the C-word.
“All they need is the commitment to pound the football because in practice everything changes, and when you come out in the game, it changes,” Bettis said. “You can’t ask Ben to throw 51 times every game. As great as he is, if you ask Ben to throw 50 times, Ben will win 8 out of 10 of those games. The problem is, chances are one of those two games he loses is a playoff game that you can’t afford to lose.”