Steelers excelling at scoring in red-zone opportunities this season
During each of the past two season postmortem meetings with reporters , Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II has lamented his team’s lack of success in scoring touchdowns once its offense drives inside an opponents’ 20 yard-line.
Rooney II is getting his wish in 2018.
The Steelers lead the NFL in red-zone touchdown rate (78.57 percent) through 10 weeks of the NFL season, according to teamrankings.com. For perspective, the Steelers got into the end zone 53.03 percent of the time they got into the red zone last season and 54.24 percent in 2016, finishing among the bottom half of the league both times.
The improvement has come at least in part, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said Thursday, because of a heavier reliance on the run game.
“Trying to utilize our people the best we can, and to take the ball out of the linemen’s hands and not give it to (running back James Conner) some, not give it to other runners, is not fair,” Fichtner said. “It’s been good for them, and it’s complemented (quarterback Ben Roethlisberger). So, I think when you can be multiple and/or balanced, it’s probably always going to be best.”
Fichtner said the input of veteran offensive line coach Mike Munchak has been instrumental in tilting more toward Conner than throwing once they get inside the 10 yard-line.
“Munch is a very experienced coach,” Fichtner said. “He has a lot of great ideas in run game protection.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.