Harris: Steelers offense must excel in 2013
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Let's assume, for argument's sake, that the Steelers' defense created seven to 10 more turnovers for their offense this year.
Why do we automatically assume things would be any different?
That players and coaches would be preparing for a playoff game instead of saying their goodbyes and preparing for the offseason?
After all, we're talking about a Steelers attack that finished No. 14 in passing offense, No. 20 in total offense and No. 22 in scoring offense under franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Isn't it enough that the Steelers' defense led the NFL in pass defense and total defense for the second consecutive season? Or that the defense also finished No. 2 in run defense and No. 7 in scoring defense in 2012?
I find it ironic that both of the Steelers voted to the Pro Bowl this year play offense and that none of their defensive teammates was invited to Hawaii. How is that possible?
How about the offensive players doing their jobs better and scoring more points instead of the defense always being expected to bail out the offense?
To get to the bottom of why the Steelers didn't qualify for the playoffs for the second time since 2009, it's important to dig deeper in search of the truth.
Did you know that the Steelers have never led the league in passing offense or total offense — or even finished among the top five — in any of Roethlisberger's nine seasons? Or that the Steelers defense didn't rank lower than No. 4 in total defense in any of their three most recent Super Bowl seasons (2005, 2008 and 2010)?
Even if you toss out this year's inconsistent offensive performance due to Roethlisberger's rib and shoulder injuries, Big Ben's body of work reveals similar inconsistencies.
In the three seasons that Roethlisberger led his team to the Super Bowl, the Steelers never finished higher than No. 14 in passing offense or total offense. In a league consisting of 32 teams, that's barely above average.
With all the talk about Roethlisberger's alleged rift with first-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the offense's numbers in his one season under Haley aren't that different from its average rankings in five seasons with Bruce Arians (14.4 passing defense, 14.4 total defense) and three seasons with Ken Whisenhunt (20.3 passing defense, 12.7 total defense).
Since 2004, the Steelers enjoyed their two highest rankings in net passing yards under Arians and Whisenhunt (2006 and '09). They didn't qualify for the playoffs in either season.
A year ago, the Steelers earned a playoff berth when the offense finished No. 10 in passing offense and No. 12 in total offense.
Forget the defense not generating enough turnovers for the offense in 2012. The unit deserves much better than that.
Roethlisberger has played on five teams that led the league in total defense. Imagine how many Super Bowls Tom Brady could win if he played with a dominant defense.
It's probably asking too much to expect the Steelers to lead the league in total defense in 2013 for a third consecutive season.
However, it isn't asking too much to expect the offense to play better.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers wrap lackluster preseason with loss to Panthers
- Death Valley ‘sailing rocks’ linked to freeze-warm cycle
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell faces former team, hurts leg
- WPIAL teams value hard-to-come-by nonconference games in Week 1
- RMU falls to Eastern Kentucky in Banaszak’s coaching debut
- Preseason valuable for Steelers’ offensive line
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Man found in store parking lot not shooting victim, Pittsburgh police say
- Pirates starting pitcher Cole growing in his 1st full major-league season
- Feds approve compromise on Corbett’s alternative Medicaid plan
- Statistically speaking: Can Pirates contain Hamilton on bases