PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – You can see it in games and it’s not just the casual fans that see it, but former players and executives. Jaylen Warren brings something to the Steelers offense that Najee Harris hasn’t or can’t. And we will continue to see more of Warren.
Overall for the season, Harris has triple the rushing yards of Warren, 74 to 26 and a better average 4.6 to 2.9. In the pass game it’s reversed, Warren is tied for the team lead with George Pickens with nine catches with 78 yards, Harris has three receptions for two yards.
“Warren comes in with juice,” Steelers Super Bowl champ Bryant McFadden told the Cook and Joe Show on 93.7 The Fan. “My nickname for Jaylen Warren is the microwave because he heats up fast. When he gets in the ballgame he’s already heating up.”
“Some players can be like a crock pot & you see them surface in the fourth quarter. Jaylen ‘the Microwave’ Warren instantly when he gets in, he’s heating up and we see it. We feel it. What we saw from him in a half where offensively we weren’t doing anything was unbelievable individual efforts from Jaylen.”
For instance, Warren caught a pass in the flat on third and 10. He had no blockers and three Browns in front of him. Warren put his head down, revved up the microwave and powered through for a first down. That kept the drive alive and on the next play, Kenny Pickett found Pickens for a 71-yard TD.
“Consistently 30 shows up making plays,” Pickett said. “He’s a guy that needs to get the football. Run, pass, whatever it may be. He continually pops and makes those explosive plays for us. We got to continue to focus to get him the football.”
Former NFL executive, including being the Buffalo Bills GM, Doug Whaley told the Fan Morning Show Harris’ lack of burst and lack of speed are getting exposed at the NFL level. While he could make plays in college, even in the talent-laden SEC, he isn’t getting it done at the NFL level.
“Now, the holes, especially after some injuries which made him less explosive and less fast, those holes are closing a lot quicker and when he tries to get to the outside, the pursuit is catching up with him,” Whaley told Adam Crowley and Dorin Dickerson on 93.7 The Fan. “Jaylen Warren gives you a spark. You can still mix him (Harris) in.”
Whaley said it shouldn’t matter who is running the ball if the goal is to improve the offense. Even though Harris is a first-round pick and former captain, he’s not providing a lift for the offense.
Harris said the defenses are playing to stop him. If you watch the film, they approach the Steelers as if it’s an obvious run down, every down and stacking the box with five defensive linemen.
“When we come in and defenses obviously try to stop the run, it makes it harder because that’s our thing,” Harris said. “We knew that coming in, it’s something we have to deal with.”
“We got to win our one-on-ones. When we do have an opportunity to make plays in the running back room, we have to make those. I have to do a better job of winning more one-on-ones.”
“Would I start (Warren) in Week 3, no I wouldn’t,” McFadden said if he had the power to make that decision. “Najee, let’s go. Let’s get it together. Najee sees what is going on. He probably hears it as well.”
“When you watch tape, you see it. When 30 is in the game, he’s got juice. He’s fighting. He’s a physical runner with a burst and we need every bit especially when you look at our stagnant our offense has been.”
McFadden doesn’t make the decision, but Mike Tomlin does. He wasn’t asked directly about starting Warren, but if they will use him more against the Raiders Sunday night.
“We'll see what this week holds for us in terms of our planning,” Tomlin said. “We acknowledge that Jaylen is a significant player and a guy that's capable of being a significant component of what we do as is Naj, and we'll do what we do every week. We'll make decisions about how we divvy up the labor based on what's most advantageous in an effort to create victory this week.”
They were able to create victory last week, but look for more Warren this week. They have to and if that inspires Harris, that’s a bonus.