Pittsburgh Steelers new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is going to bring a smash-mouth approach to the offense, which bodes well for the running back duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. The Detroit Lions were the only other team in 2023 to have two running backs record 1,100+ yards from scrimmage. Harris had 1,205, while Warren registered 1,154.
Harris and Warren don’t know much about their new OC yet, but they are aware that he loves to pound the rock.
“I’m excited. That’s really all I know about him is that I’ve heard he likes to run the ball. That’s kind of been the identity we’re trying to establish the past couple years. I guess, so I’m excited to see what he brings to the table,” Warren told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from radio row in Las Vegas ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Harris’ thoughts on Smith were more straightforward.
“I mean, shoot, let’s win some games. That’s really it,” the former Alabama running back stated.
Harris did acknowledge Smith’s success with fellow Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry when he was the OC in Tennessee, however.
“I really don’t know about him and what he did in Atlanta,” Harris added. “I know a little bit of when he was in Tennessee with Derrick. Hopefully, he can bring that to the Steelers.”
Under Smith, Henry averaged over 5.0 per carry in both 2019 and 2020. He also combined for 3,567 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns in the two seasons. Smith will try to replica that success with Harris and Warren in Pittsburgh. A physical brand of football has been Smith’s modus operandi throughout his career.
“Certainly, with our offense, we’ve clearly adapted to the strengths of our players, but there’s a certain identity we want to have,” Smith said during a one-on-one interview with Missi Matthews of Steelers.com. “Any offense I’ve been a part of, it’s gonna be a physical brand. We want to win the line of scrimmage.”
Smith comes from a wide zone run blocking background, which is different than Matt Canada’s primarily run inside zone and split zone as their base. Although, throughout the season last year, they became a more diverse team, leaning into duo and other gap runs with pulling guards.
Atlanta ranked 27th in runs with a pulling guard while the Steelers ranked in the top ten. So, it will be interesting to see if Smith will pivot into embracing some of those gap schemes. Either way, dominating up front and running the ball at will is a top priority in Smith’s offense.