It's nice to be 9-0 and still have areas in which to improve.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sit as the only undefeated team in the NFL, yet Mike Tomlin's club hasn't played picture-perfect football in all nine wins. At times early in the season, the defense struggled. Ben Roethlisberger has had issues with his deep accuracy. And most currently, the Steelers run game has been silent.
Getting James Conner and the run game going is on Tomlin's to-do list this week against Jacksonville.
"We are not up to snuff right now. We accept ownership for that," Tomlin said, via the Associated Press. "We are going to roll our sleeves up and solve it. We had a similar discussion a couple of weeks ago when you were asking about our third-and-long defense. We did similar things there, and I expect similar results in the run game."
The Steelers are averaging 101.8 rushing yards per game this season (24th in NFL). In Weeks 1-6, they earned 136.8 rush YPG (ninth in the NFL). From Weeks 7 to 10, that's dropped to 58.0 rush YPG (last in the NFL).
"You always go through lulls in the season where components of your play are lacking, and it requires a re-center of energy or attention or focus," Tomlin said. "I believe that is where we are in regards to the run game right now. We will get about that task this week."
The Steelers have had fewer than 50 rush yards in each of the last three games. Pittsburgh and Chicago are the only teams with fewer than 50 rush yards in three or more games this season.
The Steelers are the only team since at least 1948 to have fewer than 50 rush yards in three consecutive games and win all three, per NFL Research.
Part of the Steelers' early-season rushing successes was a mirage, with chunk runs from Conner at the end of contests masking inefficiencies early in games. Conner's lack of lateral burst this season has curtailed the run game's options. Benny Snell has fared no better in limited opportunities.
Whether it's adjusting how they attack defenses or perhaps giving rookie Anthony McFarland a bigger role to inject young speed, Tomlin plans to jumpstart the run game against a Jacksonville defense that ranks 25th in rush yards allowed this season.
"I look forward to getting into the lab with the coaches and the guys and attacking this run game situation," Tomlin said. "It's something that we shouldn't have a difficult time pushing through, to be quite honest with you. We have very capable people in that area, but it is below the line as we sit here today."