Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris just answered the question that nobody outside of Pittsburgh was curious about.
Why is the offense struggling so much, and what are the Steelers doing to improve the offense? Though the answer seems more like a deflection, and a commendable attempt to protect some of his teammates and coaches, it isn’t the smartest answer to give the media.
It’s the outlets by the way. The media (and social media), journalists, reporters, and analysts alike, are at fault. That’s what Harris is saying, at least. Harris is claiming that the media and the way they frame questions, and spin narratives cause turmoil in the Steelers locker room.
Harris explained to reporters in Friday’s media session after practice that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in a delicate rebuilding phase right now, and they are currently building, working, and growing together. In trying to get the latest scoop or shape a hot narrative, claims Harris, the media causes issues in the locker room for some of the players.
“You know what it is? I think it’s just the social media and the interviewers, like you guys. You guys are just kind of just breaking us apart in a way. Because you guys keep asking questions like this. We’re at a point where we’re building right now, we’re working on it, but you guys come in here and asking questions to all the receivers and all the guys and Mitch [Trubisky] about what’s not working. That’s not how you build and that’s not how you get better. You guys are breaking us apart and we need to find a way where we can just stay together and come together as a team and focus on what needs to matter the most.”
The media Harris is referring to are the talking heads that call for Mike Tomlin to bench Mitch Trubisky in favor of rookie Kenny Pickett, creating a quarterback controversy on social media that filters into the locker room and makes it hard for everyone to focus on the task at hand.
According to Harris, the team is “comfortable,” and they don’t feel as if the issues that many are reporting about within their offense are as bad as the media is making it out to seem. From his point of view, the problem isn’t the play-calling from offensive coordinator Matt Canada, but the execution from the players.
“The play-calling, all of that, is fine. It’s just us executing. You guys keep blaming other people. It’s us in this locker room. We all need to come together and focus on what we need to improve on,” Harris said to reporters.
Through the first three weeks of football, the Steelers are 31st out of 32 teams in total offense, and they are dead last in time of possession. They obviously aren’t scoring quickly and forcing teams to have long drives. They are getting three-and-outs and are giving the ball back to the other team often.
While Harris claims that execution by the players is the reason why they are struggling, some of this blame has to fall on veteran QB Trubisky, who has a 60.2 completion percentage through three games, as well as only 596 passing yards, which places him 27th in the league for passing yards.
Though no one expected Trubisky to be good in Pittsburgh, they expected him to be average enough to win games, especially with access to an arsenal of weapons such as Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Najee Harris, and Chase Claypool.
That’s why everybody in Pittsburgh, outside of the Steelers coaching staff, wants Pickett thrown into the fire. The media might be feeding it, but the split between what the fans want and what Tomlin is going to do is widening.
The Steelers already have a stellar defense that has kept them in all three games, but in the two losses they sustained it was their offense that couldn’t produce in the clutch. Now even though Harris blames the media for the chemistry issues that are “breaking up” the locker room, these are issues that teams should be well prepared for. Dealing with the media is the basics for pro athletes, so some would say Harris’ whining is a huge cop-out.
The Steelers will not win the AFC North. They are literally the worst team in the division (especially once the Browns get Deshaun Watson back), and we can clearly see they’re working on themselves as a team. Taking a glass-half-full perspective, one would say that the media trashing your offense is something you guys can use to band together and motivate each other.
But at the end of the day, Harris is going to be a teammate first and protect his team at all costs. It is a respectful duty he is taking on by defending his QB, coaches, and team. Just don’t blame it on the media.
Read More TSL Stories: