Steelers Archer Hopes To Prove Doubters Wrong In Year Two

The rookie season of Le’Veon Bell got off to a rocky start, as despite his sterling reputation coming out of Michigan State as a workhorse, he missed the early portion of it with a Lisfranc injury, a tricky but serious injury if not treated with care.

However, late in the 2013 season he showed glimpses of why the team had such high hopes as it’s running back of the future when they took him in the axons round of the 2013 NFL Draft. His 2014 season was the complete opposite, as he took the league by storm, leading the AFC in rushing with 1,361 yards to go along with 854 yards through the air en route to first-team All-Pro honors.

The 2014 NFL Draft saw the team reach to the running back well again in the third round, when they took the dynamic Dri Archer. Tabbed as a do-it-all spark plug in the mold of Darren Sproles, Archer failed to live up to his billing last season, providing none of his trademark splash plays that made him such a high draft pick. Many even questioned it, calling it a “luxury pick” by a team with many needs on the defensive side of the ball.

Ultimately, heading into year 2, it could be fair to say that there’s a large monkey riding on the back of the 5-foot-8, 173-pounder. Those around him are certainly noticing, including guard David DeCastro.

“I believe if Dri hits his stride, we’ll have another weapon in the toolbox,” DeCastro said, according to Ralph N. Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He isn’t just feeling his way around anymore. He’s a much more confident player.”

The team needed to upgrade it’s depth in the backfield heading into the offseason, for practical purposes and also to help sting the blow of Bell’s two-game suspension to begin the year. However, instead of sulking about it and accepting his role as a reserve, it’s made Archer work that much harder to prove his critics wrong.

A common negativity regarding him is his size, something he says he’s dealt with his entire career.

“People have being saying that about me my whole life,” Archer said , according to Paulk. “At every level, I’ve heard it. At every level, I’ve been successful.”

However, the NFL is a different animal, where running inside is like navigating through a forest of trees with some defensive tackles weighing in excess of 350 pounds.

However, as previously stated, Archer’s confidence is way up after a year in the system and he’s looking forward to the upcoming season to show off his versatility, whether it be more snaps on offense, or on special teams, perhaps taking over for All-Pro Antonio Brown as the primary punt returner, since Brown’s  worth to the team cannot be measured.

Archer, along with wide receiver Markus Wheaton, split the kickoff return duties last year and Wheaton, who has a year on Archer as he’s entering his third year, feels Archer is just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.

“He’s so fast, sometimes he wants to do everything to show just how fast he is, Wheaton said, according to Paulk. “If you watched Le’Veon last season, he was very patient. Dri was going 100 mph, but he’s come a long way. You can see him setting up his blocks better.”

There was a night and day difference between Bell’s rookie and sophomore campaigns, as previously mentioned. Is it silly or premature to expect the same from Archer? That’s exactly what he wants, more of the same doubters he’s faced all his life.

“I’ve been striving to prove everyone wrong,” said Archer, according to Paulk. “I’m not feeling any pressure because I know what I’m capable of.  I just want the ball in my hands to make something happen.”

  • Big White

    I feel Dri could be a tremendous asset. However, I expect a lighter, fresher De’Angelo to make that nearly impossible unless he goes down to injury. Next to Kickoffs I don’t expect him to see the field with the exception of Week 1 & 2. Too bad.

  • rystorm06

    IMO dri needs to slow down and watch how bell sets up blocks. sometimes too much speed at the wrong time = negative play. gotta give the blocks time to set up before exploding upfield

  • cencalsteeler

    I’d be fine with Dri in a minimal role in the offense as long as he proves his worth in the return game!

  • AndyR34

    For this year, I would be satisfied if Archer did one thing well. I don’t care what it is…just do one thing well this year.

  • Jonny Panic

    Dri admitted he was really poor at setting up his blocks at the beginning of last season. Hopefully his vision is improving. I saw a picture of him recently and he looks absolutely jacked.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Dri…needs to improve…that goes w/o saying, but imo Haley needs to improve as well…you can’t telegraph your plays has badly as he did with Archer and expect results.

  • dano

    and if that one things is return kicks, dont even need him in punts, then he’s worth it

  • John Noh

    Just get ‘er done, Dri. True Steelers fans are hoping you succeed beyond all expectations. That offense would be sick in terms of the options Ben would have to get the ball down the field and, hopefully, score touchdowns. I am hoping for more plays like the one against the Ratbirds in the playoffs, even if it got called back, unfortunately.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I think he can and will! Just friggin give him the ball in space! Also on the field at the same time as Bell!

  • SixRings

    I got your back, Dri. The first time you return a kick for 6 in about 2.9 seconds, all of your naysayers will conveniently forget all the hate they threw your way and they’ll be pissed when your jersey is sold out at the Sideline Store.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Preach!

  • steelster

    yes. mr. luxury pick.

  • Steve

    Haley needs to get creative in his play calling when archer is on the field, just as NE does with there small backs.

  • walter mason

    count me as one of the doubters. Im afraid he will get hurt. i hope Im wrong.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Yes, that was Dri’s biggest problem in the offense last season. When Dri was on the field the D was keying in on him expecting a screen. Running the ball he did ok averaging 4 ypc, but he would go down when a breeze hit him.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Haley/Ben put up great numbers, but it wasn’t all aces…the playoff game vs BAL was w/o Bell but Haley was predictable in that game.

    He wasn’t a great HC but McDaniels is a very good playoff game playcaller.

    Haley has to figure out how to get Archer in space 1 on 1…then it’s up to him. If you have a series with Archer and Bell up the backfield in a 2 WR/1 TE set…as a DC are you going to stay base or go nickel? Base…you can move Archer into the slot against a LB…Nickel…you can run Bell off misdirection to strong side against 1 less LB….I’m just spitballing this, not serious, But Haley has to feed him a little more and Archer has to perform to gain more touches.

  • Steve

    Part of the problem was, when Archer is on the field, he’s going to get the ball and the D key’ed on him, because of that.

  • Zarbor

    I’m definitely not one of the doubters since the guy was a rookie last year. After this year, all bets are off. Those blockers gotta help him out since once he gets touch he’s going down. With his speed, hard to get touched if he has good vision. We’ve seen speed with no vision several times before and they are no longer here.

  • charles

    Archer capable of being game breaker. His speed becomes more important late in the game. Archer seems to have been a gamble, but one has to take shots. Really hope he shows return.

  • Madi

    He doesn’t need to just run the ball up the gut. They could use him as a receiver. Hell, even though he failed as a RB last year, he was successful as a decoy. There’s no reason for him not to see 5-10 snaps per game, even with a healthy Le’Veon Bell. You have to let him get in there and get comfy and give him a chance.

  • Tracy L Trent

    steve you had to ruin this by mentioning the cheaters…wow…go troll some where else

  • Steve

    Have been on this site for over 2 years and NE uses their small backs the best and have been for years. We need to learn how to get Dri open to use his quickness.

  • Q Fourtyfive Unowho

    I wouldn’t be so quick to say he failed as a RB given the sample portion. I mean he did average 4 ypc. Now as a KR…that statement would be more accurate