Steelers' offense searches for remedy
The stat sheet provides the Steelers' offense a sobering reality.
The Steelers (2-5), who play at New England (6-2) on Sunday, rank 29th in scoring, 23rd in total offense and 30th in red-zone touchdown percentage. Only winless Jacksonville and Tampa Bay have fewer than the Steelers' 11 touchdowns (eight passing, three rushing).
The Steelers have scored 20 points only twice in a game — and lost both (against Minnesota and Chicago). They have averaged 18.7 points the past three games, including wins over the New York Jets and Baltimore.
“We're just not clicking yet,” running back Le'Veon Bell said. “Once we get there, we'll put up some points. I just can't put my finger on why we're struggling in the red zone.”
It seemingly has little to do with scheme or strategy because the Steelers have moved the ball between the 20s. But they consistently stall in the red zone, in part, because a 30th-ranked ground game doesn't command respect to keep defensive backs from manhandling the Steelers' diminutive receivers as the field shrinks.
Now the Steelers head to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., with a banged-up offensive line that needs to be at its best against a team willing to engage in a shootout.
“We're not executing at as high a level as we should,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “In order to win a lot of ballgames, you have to score touchdowns. The whole emphasis this week has been creating different type plays that can help us when we get into the red zone.
“We have to finish off drives. We have to have a sense of urgency. We know the Patriots can put points on the board, so we have to take advantage of our opportunities.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he isn't holding anything back in the first quarter despite a reluctance to deviate from a 10-play script designed to bolster the offense's confidence.
“We're not a feel-out-the-defense type of team, which I know some West Coast guys do,” Haley said. “They're showing you every formation they've got to see how you're going to play to it. I've never really believed in that.
“You better run your best plays because you may not have another chance. We're running what we think are our best runs and passes. We've had some success.
“Other than (against Tennessee in Week 1), it's the second or third series before we get going. We've got to just keep trying to dig and figure out what gives us the best chance to get out of the gates a little better.”
The defense has held opponents to 21 points or fewer the past three games. But that's not good enough to complement an offense averaging 17.9 points per game.
Haley said the causes of the Steelers' offensive woes are plentiful yet simple.
“We're finding ways to shoot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “It's a little bit of everything. There's no one issue.”
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.