Tim Benz: Steelers game stats are as ugly as their 0-3 record | TribLIVE.com
Tim Benz, Columnist

Tim Benz: Steelers game stats are as ugly as their 0-3 record

Tim Benz
Cha Palla | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph looks on as Ben Roethlisberger talks with Randy Fichtner and Mike Tomlin in the second half of a game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 at Heinz Field.

After a terrible 0-3 start for the Pittsburgh Steelers, fans may be wondering if the team is really as bad as its record.

Sadly, it is.

If you look deeper at the numbers than just the winless start, the statistics are even worse than you may think.

Let’s start with third-down conversions. The Black and Gold rank 29th in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage at 26%. Over three games, the Steelers have converted only nine third-down attempts. The Miami Dolphins are the only team with fewer conversions. They have eight.

As a result of an inability to stay on the field, the Steelers also rank 30th in yards per game. Their 269.3 average is only better than that of the Dolphins and New York Jets.

Those metrics go hand-in-glove with why the team has accumulated only 49 points, good for just 27th in the league.

The third-down issue is a defensive problem, too. Opposing teams are converting third downs at an alarming clip of 47%. That’s seventh from the bottom of the NFL.

For the sake of comparison, the New England Patriots lead the league in that category. They are only allowing teams to stay on the field 13% of the time on third down — only five such conversions allowed this season.

Hey, the Steelers got three of those against them in Week 1. Let’s throw a parade!

A major concern for the Steelers is running the football. Randy Fichtner’s offense has gained just 3.8 yards per carry. NFL.com statistics place that number at 23rd in the league. And its rushing-yards-per-game total of 64 is 29th.

The Steelers can only boast one rushing touchdown. The Dolphins, Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and Jacksonville Jaguars are the only teams who have not scored a touchdown on the ground so far this season.

I’ve referenced the company of the Jets and Dolphins way too often in this post to make Mike Tomlin comfortable.

All those circumstances add up to a major reason why the Steelers are struggling to the degree that they are. Tomlin’s offense simply can’t stay on the field long enough to score frequently, and its defense is staying on the field too long.

The disparity in plays-run versus plays-defended is terrible.

Fichtner’s offense has snapped the ball 163 times. The Jaguars offense is the only one that ran fewer plays through three weeks. The Detroit Lion’s defense is the only one to have been on the field for more plays (213) than Keith Butler’s unit (212).

Some other significant categories are failing the Steelers defensively, as well. They are in the bottom five of the NFL in points allowed (28th at 28.3), yards per game (29th at 442), rush yards allowed (28th at 418), and pass yards allowed (31st at 908).

Yeah. Beyond that, things are totally fine. Good times.

See you Monday night at Heinz Field.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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