How Can The Steelers Really Get James Conner More Involved?

Figuring out the best ways to utilize Conner and make Ben happy

Matt Koll
August 28, 2018 - 10:58 am
James Conner

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- If there's one thing we've learned over the years, it's that Ben Roethlisberger speaks and people listen.

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic talked with Ben yesterday and Ben told him that James Conner "deserves" playing time even after Le'Veon Bell returns to the team. 

Great that Roethlisberger is showing confidence in a teammate but where does that leave Bell when he comes back? How does his role in this offense change, if at all?

The Fan Morning Show discussed this today and Colin Dunlap believes Ben speaking up like this furthers his theory that Ben is, in fact, the real offensive coordinator of this team. 

Colin and Jim Colony tried to go over the ways in which Conner could be used more and how they could best impliment him into this offense. The only obvious way they could find is Conner simply coming in when Bell needs a break, say, after ripping off a long run. 

The problem with that is that while Bell had a lot success last season, Bell rarely went for those big gainers. In fact, Bell only had three runs of 20 or more yards and did not have any singular run that went for 40 or more yards. Other top-flight running backs who put in a full, healthy season like Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt and Mark Ingram all had at least one run of 40 or more and more than Bell's three runs of 20 or more. 

So is it strictly when Bell is run maybe three plays in a row and he is just tired? How often are the Steelers going to run the ball four times in a row? 

Is Conner a better pure rusher than Bell? No. Is Conner a better pass catcher than Bell? No. But that doesn't mean he can't and shouldn't be able to contribute. 

Callers suggested that a sub-package with Bell and Conner on the field at the same time may work best. Maybe start with both in the backfield and split Bell out wide in motion. Or have Bell line up in the slot and Conner in the backfield or Bell line up in the slot to start the play and go in motion with Conner in the backfield just to create some deception. 

If you're offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner (or maybe Ben Roethlisberger), who would you use James Conner? Is he worth taking touches away from Le'Veon Bell, one of the most versatile threats in the game that feds off getting the ball in high volume? 

Should Ben have even said anything here?! 

You can listen to The Fan Morning Show's discussion about this below. 


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