Who is Really the "Bell Cow" for the Pittsburgh Steelers?


Photo Credit: Erik Drost

With week one in the books and the Pittsburgh Steelers handling the New York Football Giants with ease, let's look at the major question mark heading into week two, which is the running game.


Look, we all know by now that running back James Conner is injury prone. We knew that from previous years and we saw him go down again last week. In Conner's two years as the Steelers' featured back, he has yet to play a full season without getting injured. Which begs the question: is James Conner really Mike Tomlin's "Bell Cow"? The simple answer is no, but let's go more in-depth.


For right now, let's forget about the prior statistics from other years and just look at last week's game against the Giants. Conner rushed six times for nine yards while Benny Snell rushed 19 times for 113 yards.


I get it, Snell got handed the ball more than Conner, but when Conner was in the game he was constantly stuffed right at the line and never broke free for a modest gain. Snell, on the other hand, when he didn't break free for a big gain like his 30-yard run he was able to fight for yards and not just go down after he was touched.


Snell and Conner are two different backs in terms of style but Conner has to find holes and be able to pick up some yards and show that when he is out there they can have some semblance of a running game. If not the offense will suffer because of it.


Week after week I still do not know why Tomlin refers to Conner as his "Bell Cow" because he hasn't shown me to any extent that he is someone who can help this offense out when they need it the most.


When Snell ran the ball last week he might not have busted out five to ten yards every carry, but he was efficient enough that it was able to open up the passing game and took a lot of the pressure off Ben Roethlisberger.


Snell is the Steelers' best option. He runs hard and he opens the offense up. I don't see Conner as the featured back in the offense for much longer especially if Snell has a repeat performance of last week's game. It will be interesting to see how Mike Tomlin uses his backs this weekend as Conner is slated to return as the starter against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.


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