Dunlap: Jaylen Samuels Absence Inexcusable

Colin Dunlap
September 23, 2019 - 1:03 pm
Jaylen Samuels

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - One, two, three, four --- what’s he on the team for! 

I’m talking about Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels. If you’re going to dress him, use him. 

If you’re not going to use him, what’s the use of dressing him? 

Again, all in unison now: One, two, three, four --- what’s he on the team for! 

Listen, I'm not saying James Conner needs to be benched. 

For certain, he needs to hold the football with much better regularity but I don't know if he needs to be sent to the bench just yet. 

There is something with this sputtering and stammering Steelers run game that, without any question, needs to happen though. Jaylen Samuels needs to become part of it. Yes, that Jaylen Samuels who has, in three games, just five carries for 22 yards. Or, to put it another way, the same amount of carries and yards as Mason Rudolph. 

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. 

It was never supposed to be this way. 

Now granted, I didn’t expect a full-on “running back by committee” akin to the New England Patriots, but Samuels’ lack of use has been absurd.

I mean, was one carry on Sunday asking too much? 

Can my man get just a lone, solitary touch and then go from there?

Of all the things that went wrong in the Steelers' 24-20 loss to the Niners that dropped them to 0-3 on this dismal season, maybe Samuels not getting a touch wasn't the biggest. 

But do you know what was among the biggest though? Conner putting the football on the ground in crunch time. 


He did it last season against the Browns. 

He did it last season against the Broncos. 

He did it Sunday out in San Francisco.

It is one thing to fumble, but it's quite another to fumble in the fourth quarter when your team needs you to tuck it away and bleed a game out. 

I haven’t lost full faith in James Conner. I think he’s still a very good NFL back. That said, being afflicted with fumble-itis is something no running back wants and is, from a reputation sense, even harder to shake. 

That’s why it might ease the burden some on Conner --- and actually make him more effective --- to sprinkle in some Samuels. Or even do more than just a little sprinkle. 

Am I the only one seeing this? Hey Coach Randy, you awake? 

There were times when Samuels started in the formation against the Niners defense flanking Rudolph then went in motion and split out wide. There were also times he served as nothing more than a decoy in the backfield and/or picked up a blitz. 

There were three times against San Francisco that Benny Snell, yes the rookie from Kentucky, got carries over Samuels. It's no knock on Snell, but at this point I find it impossible to think he's a better option to hand the ball to than Samuels when the decision is to not give it to Conner. 

You will never convince me the pecking order right now should go Conner-Snell-Samuels. Ever. 

I don't have some grand delusions that Samuels will cure all the ills that afflict the Steelers' offense. 

He won't. 

He's not a guy who is going to run for 125 yards a game. He won’t turn in that production week-in and week-out. Or at least I don't think he will. 

But that isn't the issue or question right now. The issue and question right now is about how the Steelers (and more to the point Conner) have not been effective on the ground. 

The ground game has been unproductive, the offensive line has performed well below the bar and it has all added up to just 192 yards on the ground in three games. 

That ain’t nearly good enough. 

How does logic not dictate to try something different? 

How can you play another game and not at least sprinkle in some Samuels?

I don't get any of it. None of it makes an iota of sense. 

Jaylen Samuels should have handled the rock some against the 49ers. That much, to me at least, seems to be fact. If he doesn’t get the football at least a few times (or maybe even more) on Monday night against the Bengals it will be downright lunacy. 

One, two, three, four --- what’s he on the team for!​

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