The Pittsburgh Steelers’ schedule is getting easier and while playoff dreams are mostly shattered (unless you want to impose some Yogi Berra wisdom and claim it isn’t over ’til it’s over), fans want to see some wins.

With the bye week in the rearview mirror and no changes in the coaching staff, the Steelers have talked about a change in offense. Will they deliver against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday?

A big part of finding that success will be all about figuring out how to run the football. For the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably heard all about how the Steelers are ruining Kenny Pickett for countless reasons including an unwillingness to pound the rock.

The problem isn’t that they don’t want to run, though. It’s that they really can’t. Through nine weeks of the season, the Steelers are 27th in yards per rush attempt and 29th in efficiency via DVOACollectively, the offensive line is 22nd in run blocking grade by PFF.

Realistically, there’s only one thing the Steelers can change to expect changes in rushing production.

Give struggling Najee Harris less playing time and see if Jaylen Warren is up for the challenge.

“You know (Warren) is a quality back that’s made some plays,” said Tomlin earlier in the week when asked about the rookie getting more playing time. “We’ll keep giving him an opportunity to do so, and maybe he’ll write that script.”

One of the huge reasons why Warren has earned more playing time is his explosiveness. In 91 fewer touches, the rookie has more explosive plays than Harris.

The truth is, it’s not only about Pittsburgh making a change because of how well the rookie has played while averaging 5.3 yards per attempt. Actually, it’s become more about Najee.

Giving Harris so many touches is becoming inexcusable when you have a rookie outplaying him. Here’s where the Steelers’ running back ranks in the NFL in several key categories:

  • Yards after contact per attempt: 40th
  • 10+ yard runs: 28th
  • Yards per attempt: 48th
  • Rush Yard Over Expected (Next Gen Stats): 2nd worst among RBs with 50+ attempts.

It’s been bad. Has the foot injury affected him? Probably. But then again, some of his struggles were evident even before that. It’s time to start giving Warren more reps, perhaps even more than what Harris is getting.

Featured image via Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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