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Bleacher Report sells Steelers’ RB Duo short in 2024 rankings

The Pittsburgh Steelers will rely heavily on their running game in 2024 to expand on the offense’s strengths in the second half of 2023. They strengthened their offensive line and brought in offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to double down on their run-first philosophy. .

Not everyone is excited about the potential of the Steelers’ running back duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report included the two on his list of top duos for the 2024 season, but put them at the bottom of his list at number 8.

“Harris, who was a rookie Pro Bowler in 2021, has had three consecutive campaigns with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,200 scrimmage yards. He is a great, high-volume back who can contribute in the passing game, even if he is more of a composer than a legitimate specialty runner,” Knox wrote. “The 26-year-old has averaged a disappointing 3.9 yards per carry in his career.

“Fortunately, Warren has emerged as an explosive pace back who has averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a professional… as a tandem, Harris and Warren give the Steelers a classic ‘thunder and lightning’ backfield that can disrupt the opponent can wear out And hit the home run.”

Knox acknowledged that the duo could be even higher on the list by the end of the season, but it’s my contention that they should be higher on the list to begin with.

Here’s the list, starting with the Steelers at No. 8.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren
7. Los Angeles Rams: Kyren Williams, Blake Corum
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Saquon Barkley, Kenneth Gainwell
5. Baltimore Ravens: Derrick Henry, Judge Hill
4. Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier
3. San Francisco 49ers: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell
2. Miami Dolphins: Raheem Mostert, De’Von Achane
1. Detroit Lions: David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs

Harris had more than 1,000 rushing yards for his third straight season in 2023, while Warren had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage. And they accomplished those feats after doing very little in the first few games of the season. But if you look at the rushing stats from each team’s final ten games of the season, the Steelers had the third-most rushing yards, behind only the Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions. They totaled 1,452 rushing yards over the last 10 games, which coincided with Broderick Jones being brought in as the starting tackle as a rookie.

With a further improved offensive line and a more coherent offensive system, why couldn’t they pick up where they left off? It may take some time for the offense to have a new playbook and some expected rookie starters, but how much worse can they be than Mason Cole and Dan Moore Jr., the two players they were set to replace from last season.

Russell Wilson should provide an improvement in the passing game over Kenny Pickett, which will further alleviate the pressure on the defense’s running game.

Some teams ahead of the Steelers on the list have a better RB1, but don’t offer the one-two punch that Harris and Warren provide. Call me crazy, but I would have put them at number 3 or 4 on the list behind the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins and maybe the Atlanta Falcons.