If the Pittsburgh Steelers intend on stacking wins now after getting their first one of the 2013 season Sunday against the New York Jets, they’re going to have to drastically start improving their starting field position for the offense.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Steelers average starting field position of their 60 offensive possessions so far this season has been their own 24 yard-line and that ranks them next to last place in the league in that category.
To make matters worse, only one of their 60 offensive possessions have begun on the opposition’s side of the field. That good field position was the result of a 40 yard punt return by wide receiver Antonio Brown early on in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
If you were to take away that punt return, Brown has 16 punt return yards so far this year on the seven others he has tried to return. I should also note that Brown has fair caught another 12 punts, a few of which he likely should have tried to return.
Part of the poor starting field position for the Steelers offense, however, is their own fault as points off of turnovers results in kickoffs and that generally results in the offense starting their next possession inside their own 25 yard-line. In fact, the Steelers offense has started 48.3% of their drives this season following kickoffs.
In addition, thanks to the nine turnovers that weren’t returned for touchdowns so far this season, the opposition’s average starting field position has been the Steelers own 44 yard-line.
The defense, however, is not off the hook as they hadn’t forced a turnover all season until Sunday against the Jets. The two that they did force were deep in their own end of the field.
The Steelers offense can’t be expected to drive 75 plus yards for points on every possession, so you can clearly see where the hidden lost yards have been so far through the first five games. The offense didn’t turn the ball over at all Sunday against the Jets and while that certainly is a good start, and conducive to winning games, the Steelers defense and special teams need to start pulling their weight moving forward.