The Pittsburgh Steelers brought in both quarterback Russell Wilson and quarterback Justin Fields this offseason, and while Wilson is in pole position to start, that doesn’t mean Fields won’t get an opportunity. One thing that could give Fields an advantage is his legs, as he’s run for 1,800 yards over the last two seasons, including 1,143 yards in 2022. ESPN analyst Mina Kimes thinks that if Arthur Smith embraces designed quarterback runs, then Fields could have a leg up over Wilson and give the Steelers a talented rushing attack.

“I think, as I said, it should be a competition, and as far as which quarterback is better and who will win that competition, for me, a big factor in that decision will come down to whether Arthur Smith is really willing to lean into the designed quarterback run game. And we have seen him do that. In fact, as recently as 2022 with Marcus Mariota, who I think we can all agree is not as dynamic at this point in his career as Justin Fields is,” Kimes said on NFL Live yesterday, adding that Mariota ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing first downs in 2022.

Kimes pointed out that the Steelers offense figured out their run game in the second half of last season, and adding Fields to the mix with Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris could give the Steelers one of the best run games in the league.

“You’d be dropping Fields into an offense that already has a very good run game. You saw that, I think, over the last, especially the second half of last season, the offensive line looked really good run-blocking. They figured out how to use both Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris. Now you add Fields to that? They could be one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.”

Pittsburgh inserted Broderick Jones into the starting lineup in Week Nine, and he helped bolster the team’s rushing attack. While he was up and down as a rookie, there’s no doubt that he’s a talented run blocker. Ideally, the unit improves with upgrades at center and maybe at tackle across from Jones. Wilson is getting older, but he can still get it done with his legs as well. He’s definitely more of an accomplished passer, and using his legs isn’t going to be a priority.

So if the Steelers and Smith do shift and look to use more designed quarterback runs, then Fields could get his opportunity. I still think Wilson is going to be the team’s starter this season, but it wouldn’t be completely surprising if there were some packages for Fields to see the field and let the Steelers get an evaluation on him against real competition. But Smith’s playbook is going to be adaptable, so it’s not as if him leaning into quarterback runs will be a decision that is made and cemented before the season starts, so it’s not something that will give Fields an advantage to start over Wilson.

There are so many ways this quarterback room can be utilized and where things can go, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if both Wilson and Fields made some sort of impact this year. However, I think Wilson will be this team’s QB1 as long as he’s healthy and doesn’t completely fall apart. But Fields’ athleticism and ability to use his legs do add an intriguing element to the room and is something that Pittsburgh could use to it’s advantage.


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