Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense was referred to as a “dink-and-dunk” one. Monday night in the 20-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, it was anything but that. In fact, you could probably call it a “chunk-and-clunk” one.
Penalty plays included, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw 9 passes 20 or more yards down the field Monday night and completed just one of them with one of those incompletions resulting in a penalty on Bengals cornerback Adam Jones for defensive pass interference.
To take the distance theme even further, Roethlisberger threw 13 passes 17 or more yards down the field and completed just three of them. Roethlisberger’s average pass distance Monday night was a very uncharacteristic 12 yards and that includes all passes thrown during the game.
Now, I am all for the Steelers offense being more vertical than they were last season, but I never expected it would go from one extreme to another.
For starters, the Steelers wide receivers never really were able to gain much separation Monday night and the current offensive line can’t consistently provide the time needed to allow for so many deep passes.
On top of everything else, not having a running game took away the threat of play-action and Roethlisberger is at his best with the deep ball when he has that going for him.
When offensive coordinator Todd Haley meets the media Thursday, I hope he is asked if the deep passing game was by design and if so, what his reasoning was for it. It’s a complete 180 from what the offense did last year and it certainly didn’t work Thursday night in Cincinnati.