Steelers Must Improve Their First Quarter And Red Zone Offense Moving Forward

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is still struggling in two key areas as they enter their game this coming Sunday against the Detroit Lions and if those areas do not improve in that game, they will surely suffer their seventh loss of the season.

Through the first nine games of the 2013 season, the Steelers offense has scored all of 17 points. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger does sport a respectable 63.8% completion ratio so far in the first quarter of games this season, he has turned the ball over a total of five times, been sacked nine times and the offense as a whole has a meager 24.4% first down percentage.

If the poor first quarter production isn’t bad enough, the Steelers offense is currently ranked 28th in the league in red zone percentage (44.83%). While he has yet to throw an interception inside the opposition’s 20 yard-line this season, Roethlisberger’s been charged with two lost fumbles and has been sacked nine times in that area of the field.

Of the 13 red zone touchdowns produced so far by the Steelers offense through the first nine games, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery has six of them while running back Le’Veon Bell has four. Five of those 13 red zone scores have come in the last two games with Cotchery being responsible for four of them.

The Lions defense is currently tied for 4th in the league when it comes to the red zone percentage (41.67%), so you can clearly see the challenge the Steelers offense will face this Sunday. In addition to that, the Lions defense has only given up three first quarter touchdowns and two field goals so far this season. Curiously enough, all three of those touchdowns came from 32 or more yards out and two of them were from 78 and 82 yards out.

  • Tom Savastano

    Some may not agree but I really think the loss of Burress hurt their red zone plans for the season.. just his presence on the field would have helped IMO..

  • srdan

    I fully agree with that. I think at the very least their interim plan was Burress until a healthy Heath could take away some of those fades. Which by the looks of it, won’t be for a hwile.

  • srdan

    Did anyone watch the miami game last night? It is hard to question our executive management on some of the calls they make. Wallace is terrible. In reality, I think our top 3 receivers are better than him. Yes, they are not as fast, but he is soft. They made the call of AB over him 2 years ago. So glad he is gone.

  • steeltown

    Still curious about J.Brown, putting on some muscle weight could be ideal even if it slows him a bit. If he bulked up to 215-220lbs at 6’3 he would be nice option especially if you spread em out with Moye out there as well…. maybe next year

  • steeltown

    Was just talking about that, Brian Hartline is there best receiver down there in MIA

  • blackandgoldBullion

    The biggest problem is predictability. You absolutely must mix in some different stuff. Play action fake and throw to heath occasionally. Then Moye if he dresses sometimes. Now here comes the big ticket item:

    Remember a few years ago? The Steelers would slowly pound their way down the field. Somewhere between midfield and the opposition 30-yard line, they need to sometimes get aggressive. As the defense starts to cheat, especially the safeties, they need to try some play action with long passes. It might even be with Adams in as an extra tackle/TE. Everyone on the planet knows you’re going to run, so go over the top, gambling that you will occasionally get a quick strike TD.

    Instead of letting teams stay in the game, they need to learn to step on their throats, in the odd instance where they get that opportunity.

    Also, Ben needs to learn to throw the ball farther. Either your speedy guy runs underneath, or it’s incomplete. No dangerous short throws that can be intercepted when attempting long passes. Ben, you don;t have Megatron on your team.

    What am I talking about. Guys, go find the video of Ben’s deep pass out of the end zone against the Pats. Brown is flying, at least 5 yards past the CB and it might have been a 95 yard TD. I am literally jumping up and down in anticipation. Instead the ball comes up so short that they both slow down and stop while the safety has plenty of time and comes across to intercept.

    Crap! I can’t stand it! But if the Steelers want to see what they have and start trying some stuff that will help next year, I would definitely use Wheaton on some bombs as he gives you the best opp for blowing past everyone.

  • cencalsteeler

    If I recall, we actually had two nice first quarter drives negated by turnovers. We have to stop the turnovers, momentum killers! Also, we get too conservative in the red zone. The Cotch td design was nice. Got to keep em coming. Get Will Johnson involved. How about a dump pass to Bell out of the back field? Naked bootleg for Ben at the goal line? I think the bubble screen would work in the red zone. Bottom line, we got to keep the foot on the gas peddle regardless of where we are on the field. The two runs up the middle, the fade route, then bring out Suisham is too predictable.

  • William Bigelow

    Moye proved effective in the red zone against Bengals with a TD in the corner of the end zone. With his height, he’s a great target down in that area of the field, but he was once again inactive this past week ….

  • k33ger

    That throw you talk about…the ball was short because ben threw it off his back foot, and didn’t step into the throw. That didn’t happen because of pressure coming from his left tackle.

    Ben has a decent deep arm. I think the biggest problem is that Emmanuel Sanders is not a good deep threat. Ben has very small windows to hit him in. He’s short, and he rarely gets more than a step on the CB. He has great hands, but we really need a burner.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I disagree. Ben’s a tough SOB. He could have stepped into it and taken the hit. It was Brown that was 5 yards clear and at full speed on that play. I do agree that Sanders only makes plays when open, and never comes down with it when he is forced to battle.

  • Bob Graff

    A win is a win and this one was nice to have. Some of the adjectives use to describe it might not be totally accurate. The offense was still below where it needs to be. the running game is improving but i wouldn’t call it dominate. The o-line is still giving up way too much pressure on Ben. The defense look good but was it at the expense of a rusty unproven rookie QB.And congratulation to Jarvis Jones first sack [the bad thing it took 8 games and it was his only tackle of the game]. Everyone keeps trying to equate red zone offense to a jump ball in the corner, I say a solid o-line would open all kinds of possibilities. Are we improving it’s hard to say but how we play against the Lions will answer that question much clearer than this past game.

  • John Hinton

    Speaking of Moye, is he in the doghouse since that dropped pass?! He could be our redzone threat.

  • Not if he can’t be trusted to catch it and he is the #5 WR

  • His numbers this year speak volumes about their choice:

    M. Wallace #11 WR Dolphins 40 rec 79 tgts 495 yds 12.4 avg 1td

    His stats are almost exactly the same as Emmanuel Sanders except Sanders has 25 more yards and one more td. Really not what you expect for 6 yrs 60 million.

    60 minutes indeed.