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Jaylen Warren had a breakout game but can he get more carries than Najee Harris?
Before I start, it is difficult to accept that quarterback Deshaun Watson is lost for the season. It’s tough. However, the Cleveland Browns have a football game to play this Sunday. Another divisional opponent in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The last time these two teams played was week 2 on Monday Night Football. Long story short, running back Nick Chubb went down for the year, Steelers won a game they shouldn’t have and Watson was atrocious.
Offensively, what is there to say about Pittsburgh?
This unit is below average. It’s not good.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett hasn’t shown much and some may blame offensive coordinator Matt Canada for it but Pickett isn’t free of blame. Despite being 24th in offensive efficiency, this offense is about as conservative as can be. Essentially, it’s an offense that’s dinking and dunking down the field and rarely takes shots down the field.
Running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren lead the backfield of Pittsburgh, Warren is the better back despite Harris getting the heavier workload.
Wide receivers George Pickens and Diontae Johnson are quality receivers, they aren’t elite (like Ja’Marr Chase) but they are very good.
Defensively, there isn’t much to say about this unit either. If you remove the turnovers that this unit forces, this defense is 20th in defensive efficiency.
They are turnover dependent.
You can argue this is an average group (I would say below average but won’t go that far).
Outside linebacker T.J Watt is there. Defensive tackle Cam Heyward has returned after missing half the season with a groin injury. Rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr has emerged as a contributor in the secondary. However, the linebacker room, mainly the interior is decimated with injuries and the secondary hasn’t been great.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is likely not going to play due to a hamstring issue.
Here are my 3 players to watch for:
RB Jaylen Warren
In terms of who is the better running back in Pittsburgh, it’s not Najee Harris. It’s Jaylen Warren. The undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State is finding ways to get on the field and when he’s on the field he’s making the most of his opportunities.
Gosh I love watching Jaylen Warren run. Top-tier balance with tremendous power for his size. Underrated agility. Just a really good football player.
(I know, I know–GB defense…) pic.twitter.com/dXdpGzxo8a
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) November 14, 2023
Warren had his first 100-yard game of his career last week against the Green Bay Packers, which was long overdue considering when he got on the field it was proven that he should be receiving more carries than Harris.
Good vision, good burst and the ability to reach the second level if he finds an opening. Warren has shown his effectiveness in the passing game as well as a receiving back. Warren is a threat on both the ground and in the passing game.
Cleveland had their issues containing Ravens running back Keaton Mitchell in the receiving game but Warren is a different animal. He’s not unstoppable but the Browns will have to be cautious of Warren.
LB Elandon Roberts
With the injuries to linebackers Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb, Pittsburgh is down their starting two inside linebackers. Elandon Roberts, who has been in the league for a while now going back to his days with the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins is someone to watch for:
Elandon Roberts blowing up the puller to tackle the RB. Love the way this guy plays. Second snap of the game. Talk about setting the tone. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/5TT20YXx8Y
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) November 13, 2023
Roberts is solid against the run, as shown in the clip above. His ability to get downhill and stick his head in there is why Pittsburgh had success stopping the run this season. When he’s on the field the Steelers only give up 3.9 yards per carry as opposed when he’s off the field they give up 5.3 yards per carry. He’s not necessarily someone that is used in coverage a lot but he’s an issue in terms of run defense. Cleveland’s running game has found success as of late, and Roberts will look to put a dent in it.
CB Joey Porter Jr
Sticking on the defensive side of the ball, rookie Joey Porter Jr is the lone bright spot in a porous Steelers secondary. Porter essentially earned his way into the starting role because of his play. The 2023 2nd round pick out of Penn State has been stout this year and some believe that Porter Jr has slipped his way into the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation:
Joey Porter Jr on 3rd/4th downs this season:
1 first down allowed
4 forced incompletions
1.3 passer rating allowed pic.twitter.com/80o2O0ynJN
— PFF (@PFF) November 11, 2023
In terms of his length, he is someone who has immense range in terms of his wingspan at 81 inches. He is sticky in coverage, sometimes it can be more of a negative than a positive but he can find ways to be effective against the pass. Outside of a few missed tackles, he has been stout for the Steelers and has immense potential.
For Cleveland, if they want to get the passing game going it’s best to avoid Porter Jr as he is arguably the best corner on the team.
What Steelers are you most interested in watching on Sunday?
Originally posted on Dawgs By Nature – All Posts