Establish the Run
For as bad as the passing attack has been this season for the Steelers, at least there is an excuse for the struggles as Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season. Unfortunately, the poor rushing attack doesn’t have a similar excuse. Sure, James Conner has battled injuries, but even when healthy, Conner was putting together a disappointing season. With backup Jaylen Samuels in the lineup over the last few weeks, somehow the results have been even worse. With just 65 rushing yards on 27 attempts, Samuels looks nothing like the player that ran all over the New England Patriots toward the end of the 2018-19 season. Trey Edmunds has shown flashes, but the team doesn’t seem to trust him, making it clear that this is Samuels’ job until Conner returns.
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By establishing the run early and often, the Steelers wouldn’t have to rely so heavily upon Rudolph and the passing game to carry the offense. Against a Bengals team that has some talent on the defensive line, running the ball won’t be easy, but it will be possible. Beyond that defensive line is a linebacker group that has struggled to bring down ball-carriers and an even worse secondary. If Samuels can get to the second level of this defense, he could have an incredibly productive day.
Though Samuels has been an excellent option as a receiver out of the backfield, Week 12 brings an opportunity for him to finally get into a groove as a runner. Far too often this season that Pittsburgh Steelers offense has been one-dimensional and ineffective, but if they can establish the run this week, things could start to turn around.