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.