PFF gives Steelers the ammo to make a major change the offense needs

The Pittsburgh Steelers' offense remains a point of contention. PFF has supplied a potential solution.
Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers / Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-3. Naturally, there is a widespread panic throughout the fanbase over the team's persistent offensive incompetence. Mike Tomlin is probably the only coach who can so consistently pull off close wins despite tanking one side of the football.

The Matt Canada Experience has been negative ever since his arrival in 2021. Still, halfway into his third season, the Steelers have never crossed 400 yards of total offense with Canada in the O.C. role. There was a minor wellspring of optimism in the fanbase after Pittsburgh's 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football, but it quickly faded. George Pickens, who caught two of five targets for -1 yard, spent the week causing a ruckus on social media.

Canada made the move from the booth to the sideline for the Titans game, and there's an idea that his closer working relationship with Kenny Pickett could bring about the necessary change for Pittsburgh.

On the other hand, the Steelers haven't actually out-gained an opponent all season. The Steelers are winning with a potent combination of defense and luck. At some point, being the weakest "contender" in the AFC North will no longer satisfy the coaching staff.

Luckily, there's a potential salve on the horizon. The Steelers' offense could receive a boost from within, starting with second-year RB Jaylen Warren.

PFF grades Steelers' Jaylen Warren as best NFL running back in Week 9

All season, there has been support behind the idea of Jaylen Warren surpassing Najee Harris on the Steelers' depth chart. Harris, a former first-round pick who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2021, has the benefit of prestige and reputation. Warren, an undrafted free agent, has scrapped his way to change-of-pace duties.

Last week, Warren accrued 11 carries for 88 yards — an impressive 8.0 yards per tote. It wasn't a bad week for his counterpart. Harris scored a touchdown and accrued 69 yards on 16 touches, good for a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. But, Warren was clearly the more effective runner. PFF bear it out.

For the season, PFF grades Warren as the more effective runner in 2023 (74.9) compared to Harris (64.6). But, the difference is not pronounced, and Harris does interestingly grade out as a significantly superior run and pass blocker. Obviously, running backs get the most shine for their playmaking between the tackles, but football is a team sport. When the Steelers decide to throw it (or to hand it off elsewhere), Harris is the more impactful complementary piece.

In the end, Warren probably can't save the Steelers' offense on his own. It could, however, benefit Pittsburgh to dial up more designed runs for Warren, with Harris taking on the change-of-pace duties. Neither Steelers RB is good enough to be a true workhorse, but Warren is the more effective overall RB in the traditional sense. Harris can make his impact felt in other areas and he should more frequently handle blocking duties.


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