Steelers’ Najee Harris Concerned About The Steelers Standard
Ben Roethlisberger, on his Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger podcast, had some serious words for the Steelers following their second straight loss to a two-win football team. According to the future Hall of Fame quarterback, the 2023 Steelers aren’t looking like the teams he played on. There is a particular standard and way of performing when you wear the black and gold, and Roethlisberger said quite plainly that this version of the team is not living up to the standard that was set during his playing days.
— 93.7 The Fan (@937theFan) December 13, 2023
Harris, speaking to the media on Wednesday, talked about Roethlisberger’s comments. The former first-round draft pick stopped short of fully agreeing with Roethlisberger, but what was said may not be what Steelers fans want to hear as the team heads into the home stretch of the 2023 season.
“Ben can have his opinion about something. I’m not trying to sit here and say, you know, he’s right or wrong, um, you know, I don’t know how to answer that.”
It would have been easy for Harris not to comment or to shrug off any further remarks, but there is something different about the way Harris handles himself in front of the media in 2023. Part of that is recognizing when he needs to speak up. What Roethlisberger said may have seemed harsh, but for Steelers fans who know what the level of gameplay should be, they were right on the money.
“You know, Ben — Ben is a Hall of Famer. Ben [has] obviously been here, won a Super Bowl; he knows what the standard is. Ben is somebody who’s credible. Who, you know, that you — you know, I got here his last year, so I can’t really say I know what the Steeler Way is, ’cause… you know, he been here with Troy [Polamalu], he been here with Jerome [Bettis], he knows that really. So, you know, if somebody outside sees that… and he been in this building, I mean, you kind of can guess and say, like, maybe he’s right, but I don’t know.”
It would be hard to imagine things like this being said a few years ago, but there has been a steady drop in morale around the Steelers, despite their historic attempt to turn things around by firing Matt Canada. Harris isn’t throwing in the towel on the 2023 season with these remarks, instead, he is challenging his teammates to put everything else aside and to live up to the Steelers standard for the next four games. They aren’t just playing for the postseason, they could be playing for their head coach’s job.
Steelers Might Still Have Time To Turn Things Around
While it may seem like a long shot, the Steelers’ tenacity and game-changing defense have them in a position where a few hard-fought wins could put them safely into a playoff spot. Entering Week 13 at 7-4, they seemed poised to make a huge leap with two consecutive games against two-win teams on their schedule. Now, looking back at the dreadful losses in Weeks 13 and 14 of 2023, the Steelers somehow still control their own playoff destiny.
It’s one thing to say it, but another thing entirely to actually go out and accomplish that. The road to 7-6 seemed smooth prior to Week 13, but despite horrible collapses against both the Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots, their postseason hopes remain alive. Not just alive, though, because the Steelers have one very easy path to take in order to secure the deeply desired playoffs: win. It doesn’t have to be pretty or even interesting; all the 2023 Steelers need to do is win.
Granted, with Mitch Trubisky leading the way, the challenge to win four straight games looks more difficult than it did before, but there is still hope. The one thing that no Steelers fan wants is to watch the team continue their offensively challenged play and limp into the playoffs, ripe for another first-round blowout in embarrassing fashion. Whether it is being challenged by Roethlisberger and Harris, coming together under Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan, or buying into the game plan, something has to click in order for this disaster to become a success.