Steelers Continue To Have Problems Flipping The Field

There is one thing that seems to be a common occurrence this season for the Pittsburgh Steelers and that is poor starting field position for the offense.

Heading into the game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys the Steelers offense had started 63 of their last 67 possessions on their side of the field over a course of their last 5 games. That number didn\’t improve in Dallas as the Steelers offense had the ball 12 times with their best starting field position being right at midfield following a 29 yard punt return by wide receiver Antonio Brown.

The Steelers average starting field position against the Cowboys was their own 24 yard-line. The five games prior to that it was 19, 29, 22, 19, and 28 respectively.

The average start is not overally the problem as one or two well placed punts can certainly skew the numbers, but the fact that only 4 drives have started in their opponents territory out of the last 79 possessions now is a bit disturbing. That\’s nearly 1 every 20 possessions and I refuse to count midfield as anything more than what it is. Consider it the state line.

So how have the Steelers opponents done starting field position wise in the last 6 games? Out of 79 possessions their opponents have started on their side of the field 16 times, or about once ever 5 possessions.

Flipping the field can happen severally different ways with turnovers and good returns usually leading the way. The Steelers defense has only forced 7 interceptions and recorded 6 fumbles now through Sunday. That of course totals out to be a measly 13. Last season the defense recorded only 15 turnovers so you can see that this has become a huge problem.

The Steelers as a team have turned the football over 27 times now through 14 games.

Heading into the game against the Cowboys the Steelers boasted a 6.7 yards per return average on punts, which ranked them 31st in the league. Although Brown did improve that average on Sunday, 1 of his 3 returns ended with him fumbling, which in turn gave the Cowboys the ball on the Steelers side of the field. A real double whammy.

The Steelers are 2-4 in their last 6 games and if they don\’t start flipping the field next week against the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that flipped the field a ton Thursday night in their win over the Philadelphia Eagles, they will be flipped right out of playoff contention.

  • Cols714

    I agree. This plus injuries is a huge reason for the recent decline in play. I was thinking about that when Brown let the punt roll and extra 20 yards. If he would have fair caught it, the ensuing pass + roughing call and the steelers would’ve been in FG range more or less.

    This is a huge problem. It’s so much harder to go 60 yards to get points than 40.

  • Mike Carroll

    Mistake – ignore this.

  • Mike Carroll

    Mistake – ignore this.

  • JT

    It all comes down to a lack of turnovers by the defense and a lack of sustained drives on offense. And really, it comes down to poor play by both lines. The O-line has been hit hard again, but the talent is there. The depth is there. They just need to get some games under their belt. This isn’t an area to worry about in the near future.

    However, the D-line is scary. We’ve got two first rounder DEs who don’t show up on game tape unless they’re on skates. The Beard has been hunted in near extinction. Big Snack is off taking a big nap. McClendon needs more snaps. See what you can get out of Heyward. Something needs to change. This defense can’t survive without a pass rush, and when your OLBs can’t get there or need to drop into coverage it turns into the Pro Bowl for the opposing QB.

  • JT

    Two weeks in a row huge errors by Brown cost them crucial points. Very disconcerting.

  • steeltown

    Totally agree with McLendon.. especially against passing teams. I understand Hampton has been a great Steeler and he plays well against the run, but when facing passing teams McLendon should be getting the majority of the snaps

  • Jeff

    This season is a wrap. If it isn’t yet it will be around 4 p.m. on Sunday.

  • Jeff

    What I wouldn’t give for a one armed Aaron Smith on Sunday.

  • RW

    If Lewis, allen and Ike can’t play this weekend, I would seriously consider throwing Troy in the fire and playing him in man coverage on AJ Green and then throwing Will Allen out on the field to play SS. I know this is a crazy suggestion, but it’s much better than the thought of Curtis Brown or Josh Victorian covering him. Thoughts?

  • steeltown

    I could maybe see that.. or even Will Allen at CB with over the top help from Clark or Troy. I just hope Lewis and/or Cortez are ready by Sunday

  • Pete

    In thinking about Brown and Wallace dropping balls and fumbling, I think the young wide receivers really miss the veteran leadership of Hines Ward.

    There’s no excuse for the mental error Brown had yesterday when he let the punt roll. This has been one of the most undisciplined Steelers teams I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a combination of lack of coaching and veteran leadership. I hope Tomlin can address this in the offseason.

    Great point Dave, but what about the ball control offense we saw earlier in the year? Teams are now holding the ball longer than the Steelers.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    It seemed to me that Butler was focused more on hitting the scoreboard than he was on pinning the Cowboys inside their 20 on his first 2 opportunities to do that.

  • RW

    The only reason I would use Troy at CB is because Will Allen had played well at SS in Troy’s absence. I hope both of those guys are ready for Sunday, too, but even with them it might be a long day… Offense better put up some points. I honestly believe if we have a healthy team in the playoffs we can compete with anyone.

  • Tom

    Young guns or dumb guns? ….that tis the question.
    This year, they are living up to the later.

    Reminds me of Parcells, Belichick, and Jimmy Johnson comments about drafting dumb players.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Thats tellin it like it is on each of those.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Congrats LeBeau & Steelers defense u made all Cowboys offensiv players look like all-pros:

    * WR Miles Austin had his best day in 3 years.
    * Romo normally chokes in December but u gav him ~340 & 2 TDs & zero ints.
    * Hannah is their backup unknown TE who u made look like their allpro Jason Whitten.
    * Speaking of Whitten u let that great recevng TE wide open for that TD & whenever he wanted. Our defense plan on that TD was to hav both our safeties stand frozen like mannequins.
    * The only passes DezBryant didnt catch at him were ones that bounced off his hands. U never tweeked his broken finger.
    * Cryboys #29 caught anything & was a mismatch nobody wanted to tackle even though he aint Bettis.

    Could replace all of our DL with 3 cheap blocking dummies or FAs on the street, nobody wuld
    now the difference.