After Further Review: The heart of the matter

After further review …

Mitch Trubisky, either inadvertently or with subtle intent, may have gotten to the bottom of what was wrong with the Steelers' offense in Houston beyond the usual suspects of schematics, execution, negative plays and getting behind the chains.

"It's a multitude of things," Trubisky insisted after Texans 30, Steelers 6 on Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium. "The No. 1 thing, whatever play comes in, you gotta execute it, all 11 guys gotta be on the same page. From what I've been seeing from the sidelines, we gotta stay ahead of the chains, stay out of those third-and-long situations, and when you get in the red zone, score.

"It all sounds pretty obvious, but it's easier said than done."

And then there was this:

"We just gotta show some more heart," Trubisky added. "More heart will help this offense."

That was as interesting an observation as the one from Mike Tomlin when he was asked if changes would be forthcoming.

"Hell yeah we gotta make some changes, man," Tomlin declared. "That was an ugly product we put out there.

"We're not gonna do the same things and hope for a different outcome."

The degree of change remains to be seen.

But change had already been thrust upon the Steelers, at least temporarily, in advance of Tomlin's call for an altered course moving forward.

Trubisky had replaced Kenny Pickett at quarterback against the Texans due to injury.

No. 1 pick Broderick Jones had stepped in at left tackle for Dan Moore Jr. for the same reason.

Other potential personnel and/or schematic alterations that might at least be considered could include playing No. 32-overall selection Joey Porter Jr. more at cornerback, getting run-stuffing nose tackle Breiden Fehoko a helmet on Sundays and throwing the ball to the human catch radius, tight end Darnell Washington, more than once every four games.

Especially in the red zone, and especially with tight end Pat Freiermuth also banged up.

But what really ailed the Steelers in Texas likely won't be fixed by a tweak here or there, either in personnel or from a dry-erase board.

Take a look at the best photos from the Week 4 game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium

"More heart will help this offense."

Trubisky spoke for his platoon, the offense, as players do in such situations.

He might have easily included the defense in his assessment, as well.

As for what Trubisky was talking about specifically, it wouldn't be a reach to suggest running back Najee Harris' performance against the Texans stood out as Exhibit A.

Whether Trubisky was alluding to Harris specifically or not, the third-year running back came out of the locker room for the start of the third quarter with the Steelers trailing, 16-0, breathing fire. At that juncture, Harris was all about effort, intensity and, to borrow Trubisky's word, heart.

Harris averaged 5.1 yards on 14 mostly hard, physical carries. But it was his 32-yard, catch-and-run rumble to the Texas' 8-yard line midway through the third quarter that really resonated.

He started blocking on the play, eventually made himself available to Pickett off a bootleg, made an off-balance catch behind a linebacker, stumbled down, got back up, got blasted by a safety, somehow stayed on his feet, turned himself back around and kept churning toward the Texans' goal line.

On the previous series, Harris had collided with Washington, who was pulling on the play, just before running through a tackle in the backfield on the way to a 15-yard gain.

On the Steelers' third possession of the second half, Harris ran through four would-be tacklers while picking up 23 yards.

On a day rife with frustration, Harris' effort was nothing short of inspirational.

If the Steelers are really serious about making impactful changes, following that type of lead and that type of leader would be a good place to start.