Steelers’ Offensive Frustration Boils Over as Chukwuma Okorafor Benched
Veteran Right Tackle Upset with Same Run Plays
There has been a growing frustration surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense in the first eight games of the season, both from the media and fans. Now, it appears that some players have also expressed their frustrations.
According to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, veteran right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor was visibly upset during the Week Eight loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Okorafor’s frustration stemmed from the Steelers repeatedly calling the same run plays, leading to a sideline outburst late in the 20-10 defeat. This outburst ultimately resulted in his benching in Week Nine, with rookie Broderick Jones taking his place, and it seems Okorafor may remain on the bench for the foreseeable future.
While Okorafor did not provide specific details about the incident or his grievances against the Jaguars, he stated that he is focused on moving forward and taking things day by day. However, Dulac’s report suggests that Okorafor was particularly upset with the Steelers’ decision to continue using the same run plays despite trailing throughout the game, including a 17-3 deficit in the third quarter. The exact target of Okorafor’s anger and the extent of the exchange remain unclear.
Considering the numerous offensive struggles the Steelers have faced this season, ranking 28th in total yards (278.5), 24th in passing yards per game (188.0), and 24th in rushing yards per game (90.5), it may come as a surprise that Okorafor was so frustrated with the repeated run plays against the Jaguars. In that game, Pittsburgh managed to rush for 80 yards on 17 carries, which is not as abysmal as some of their previous performances. Nevertheless, the frustration reached a boiling point for the veteran offensive tackle, leading head coach Mike Tomlin to deem it “significant” and subsequently bench Okorafor.
With Okorafor now on the sidelines, the Steelers showcased their best rushing performance of the season in Week Nine against the Tennessee Titans. They amassed a total of 166 rushing yards, with Jaylen Warren leading the charge with 88 yards on 11 carries, and Najee Harris grinding out 69 yards on 16 carries. The Steelers even managed to score an opening-drive touchdown, courtesy of a 10-yard run by Harris, marking their first opening-drive touchdown since Week 15 of the previous season against the Carolina Panthers.
This incident provided an opportunity for Tomlin and the Steelers to make a change, introducing Jones into the lineup. It now appears that Jones will remain in the starting lineup for the rest of the season at right tackle.