TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Harris: Steelers offense must excel in 2013

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and the Steelers’ offense finished No. 14 in passing, No. 20 in total offense and No. 22 in scoring.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, 10:36 p.m.
 

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 jharris@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Reliving the moment a decade ago that shifted the Penguins history
  2. Penguins trade Sutter to Canucks, sign free agent center Fehr
  3. Sutter: Staal effect felt on 3rd line with Penguins
  4. Steelers’ Wheaton adjusting his game moving to slot receiver
  5. Rossi: ‘Hockey guy’ Sutter will be missed
  6. Pregnant woman killed by gunfire in Brighton Heights, other shootings reported in city
  7. 5 face trial in beating of black man in Pittsburgh
  8. Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell gets suspension, fine reduced
  9. Leetsdale places police chief on paid leave
  10. New Pens winger Fehr ready for defense-first role
  11. NFL notebook: Chiefs’ Poe will miss time after back surgery