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Steelers great Jerome Bettis sees room for growth, believes Pittsburgh has ‘really good chance’ at playoff run

Steelers great Jerome Bettis sees room for growth, believes Pittsburgh has ‘really good chance’ at playoff run
  • PublishedOctober 1, 2023

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Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis was pleased with the improvements he saw from the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Week 3 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, but he believes his former team has room to grow offensively and in doing so, they stand a “good chance” at making the playoffs. 

When speaking with the media earlier this week, head coach Mike Tomlin stressed the importance of not only winning games, but also continuing to improve week-to-week. 

“I just feel like we’re getting better in all areas, and that’s a reasonable expectation and mindset to have this time of year,” Tomlin said when speaking to the media on Tuesday. “Our business is to win games, no doubt. You step into stadiums, you’re called to win – that’s the focus, but in the pursuit of those victories you’ve got to build. And it just feels like we’re getting better.” 

Raiders and Steelers players line up

A general overall view of helmets at the line of scrimmage as Las Vegas Raiders center Andre James (68) snaps the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Allegiant Stadium. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

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The Steelers’ offense struggled in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers. Pittsburgh managed just 239 total yards on offense, which included just 41 rushing yards. They suffered a 30-7 loss.

Despite pulling off a win the following week over the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers again struggled with just 255 yards on offense (55 rushing), compared to the Browns’ 408 total yards on offense. 

A significant improvement in the run game last week saw the Steelers rush for 105 total yards, more than their first two games combined. 

But NFL legend and former Steelers Super Bowl champion Jerome “The Bus” Bettis told Fox News Digital that he still wants to see more offensively. 

Jerome Bettis runs the ball

Pittsburgh Steelers Jerome Bettis runs in for a one-yard score against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 13, 2005.  (Sean Brady/NFLPhotoLibrary)

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“Obviously, they had a much better performance, but it’s still not good enough offensively from a running game perspective. Here’s a team that has been based on running the football. They’ve got to get that physical mentality, on the offensive line, that they can go out there and dominate at the line of scrimmage. And I think that’s something that they’re working on that they still need to develop a little bit more.”

He continued, “I think offensively, they’ve come a long way, but they still have a long way to go. And I think it starts with Kenny Pickett, the quarterback. I think he has a chance to be an exceptional quarterback in the NFL, but he still has to develop and still has to learn how to play quarterback in the NFL. And it’s a process like anything else, but I think he’s up to the task. This is a really good football team and the defense is sensational. So I think they’ve got a really good chance to make it to the playoffs and be dangerous.”

While the Steelers run game has been less than productive, there may not be cause for concern just yet. Bettis explained that it’s not an entirely unusual thing to see slow offenses this early in the season. 

Jerome Bettis runs over a Bears player

Jerome Bettis #36 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs over Brian Urlacher #54 the Chicago Bears for a touchdown on December 11, 2005 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Bears 21-9.   (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“Here’s the thing, offenses at this point in the season are always a little bit behind the defenses because everybody’s got to be on the same page. You got to get all 11 guys thinking the same thing, and when you come out of training camp and you don’t have that many days of training camp like you used to, it takes a little bit for these offenses to really get going. But I expect to see the running back play an important role in the middle and in the second half of the season.” 

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Bettis, who was diagnosed with asthma at age 14, played the majority of his 13-year career in the NFL with the Steelers. He spoke to Fox News Digital on behalf of Aire Serv and stressed the importance of indoor air quality as it relates to those who share his condition. 

“Being diagnosed with asthma, the fear is can you breathe? Will you be able to breathe? Can you play? And, so, playing running back, it didn’t help with that position,” Bettis explained. 

Jerome Bettis honored during an NFL game

Jerome Bettis #36 of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles and acknowledges the fans after receiving an ovation while being honored on the video scoreboard in the final home game of his career during their victory in NFL game action against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field on January 1, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

“And, so, what I had to do before every game, I would take an albuterol treatment to make sure that the lungs were a lot clearer, were open, so that I was breathing at 100% capacity. So, that was regular before every single football game.” 

“But I also had trainers who knew of the asthma, so they had inhalers with them all over the football field. So, it was just about being conscious and diligent and doing it every single game to make sure I gave myself the best chance to be effective as a football player, but also so that I could breathe. Because one of the scariest things in the world is to not be able to breathe. And so that was always my fear.” 

 

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