In the first six games of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were averaging 130 yards per game and 4.1 yards per attempt. Since then, they’re at the bottom of the league in both areas.
Initially, it didn’t matter that the run game was trending downward because Pittsburgh was still able to keep the offense moving with quick, short passes. That’s no longer effective because defenses got wise and neutralized that scheme.
Until guard Matt Feiler went down last week, the line personnel is no different from starting the season.
So, why is the ground game struggling?
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin points to the short weeks his team has endured and claims they’re several weeks into focusing on the run game in practice.
“We haven’t necessarily seen the fruit of that work yet, and some of that can be traced to the short weeks,” Tomlin said in his weekly press conference. “We’ve acknowledged that, and that’s why we’re excited to work this week. Our continued emphasis is there in an effort to get that product to look the way we need it to look, round out our offensive attack, and allow it to be more fluid and productive.”
That’s a lot to digest.
From a physical standpoint, a mentality standpoint, and a play-calling standpoint, sweeping changes are required. The Steelers have three games to roll out that “product” and until the second weekend in January to perfect it.
It starts with a full week of practice leading up to the Cincinnati Bengals. This is Pittsburgh’s first full week of practice since Week 12. After the Ravens COVID outbreak forced a few schedule changes, preparation and practice for the Washington Football Team were limited to three days and five for the Buffalo Bills.
Tomlin says his team is working on adjustments. We just have to trust the results will manifest themselves. We’re not going to see significant changes in the run game this regular season. But if we’re lucky, we’ll see them in the playoffs.