Steelers' Najee Harris calls for 'in-house' changes, more discipline after playoff loss

Najee Harris wants to see the Pittsburgh Steelers make some changes.

The Steelers are 0-4 in the playoffs since 2017. Monday night's loss to the Buffalo Bills marked Harris' second time losing in the wild-card round with the Steelers. The 25-year-old is in his third year with the team but they didn't make the playoffs in 2022.

After the 31-17 defeat, Harris told reporters that the issues are above him:

"There's got to be some in-house things that need to change," Harris said. "Coach [Mike Tomlin] always tells me just play running back. That's a little inside thing that we have, too. But if you want to elevate where we are and achieve those goals that we want, we have to change some in-house stuff. Like I said, that's not my place, that's not anything that I can control or do anything about that."

The Steelers have gone seven seasons without a victory in the playoffs. It's the longest span in the team's history without a postseason win since 1970. Harris recorded 37 rushing yards on 12 carries in addition to two catches for 15 yards in Monday's playoff loss.

When the 2021 Pro Bowler aired his grievances with the team's offense in November, Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada was fired days later. This time, Harris emphasized that his comments weren't about the staff. Instead, it sounds like he's hoping for a collective team attitude adjustment and more order.

"Not no changes or coaches or anything like that. Just the rules that are in the building," Harris added. "We've got to be more disciplined. We've got to be more committed. I'm not saying that we're not, but coming from a place that has structure and coming and just seeing, we could probably get help in these areas, make a change. I think that's something that could help. I'm not saying anything about coaches or anything like that. I'm saying in-house rules."

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris speaks to reporters following an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024 in Baltimore. The Steelers won 17-10. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris is ready for the Steelers to turn a page. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In keeping with Harris' sentiment, head coach Mike Tomlin reportedly spoke to players during a meeting Tuesday, sayinig he plans on coaching the team in 2024 despite speculation he might step down. The 51-year-old has never led a losing campaign in 13 seasons. He left Monday's postgame news conference after a reporter began a question by reminding him that he has just one year remaining on his contract.

While Tomlin is known to appreciate explosive personalities, things seemed to reach a boiling point in the locker room this season. As George Pickens began to display frustration and subsequent lack of effort on the field, Tomlin went from dismissing the wide receiver to admitting his behavior was "a problem." Wideout Diontae Johnson was forced to address a similarly lackadaisical approach earlier in the season as well.

Last month, All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick told his teammates to "look in the mirror" in the wake of consecutive losses. Fitzpatrick and Johnson reportedly got into a heated locker room exchange days before he made those comments.

Harris played under Nick Saban at Alabama in college. Pittsburgh will decide on his fifth-year option this offseason. If exercised, it would be guaranteed for 2025.