Steelers Among Least-Efficient Offenses This Season In Red Zone

It seems that the red zone is an annual discussion for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their offense, taking a disappointed tone, in that the personnel that they have on that side of the ball should lend itself to better results that they have not been seeing.

This year has been no different, which is largely the reason why that they rank just 13th in points scored per game with 22.7. And that result just got a big boost from their 40-point showing against the Titans. The game added nearly a full two points per game to their season total, previously averaging just under 20.8 points per game, which ranked 20th.

On Thursday, the Steelers cashed in on three consecutive trips in the red zone, but still went three-for-seven overall inside the 20. The final red-zone possession, however, came at the end of the game when they kneeled three times, so they were three-for-six when they were trying to score.

The Steelers have only scored a touchdown on 42.5 percent of their trips inside the red zone this season on the offensive side of the ball, a figure that has actually been better on the road than at home. Their 55-percent scoring rate on the road ranks in the middle of the pack, while their road rate of just 30 is the second-worst. Their overall rate is 31st in the league.

And they also rank 31st in terms of touchdowns per play run inside the red zone, according to Pro Football Focus—or actually in a four-way tie for 28th. Either way, the point is that just one team has been less efficient inside the 20 on a per-play basis than the Steelers, and that is the Broncos.

According to an article put up recently, Pittsburgh is only scoring on 14.1 percent of their plays run from within the red zone. The Ravens, 49ers, and Colts are the only team aside from the Broncos to have a ratio that low.

“Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons makes this number one of the most shocking in the list”, the article reads. “The Steelers have the weaponry to be the best offense in the game, but continue to struggle in 2017, and nowhere more than when the field gets compressed and they need to execute better. Only five teams have run more plays from the red zone than the Steelers”.

The fact that they have run the sixth-most plays inside the red zone is not surprising, as they have, for the most part, continued to move the ball well between the 20s, which has been the case for years now. It has been finishing drives that is at issue.

11 of Ben Roethlisberger’s 16 passing touchdowns have come inside the red zone this year, as have all five of Le’Veon Bell’s rushing touchdowns. Their 16 touchdowns inside the red zone works out to an average of about one and a half per game. They averaged 1.75 red-zone scores per game a year ago.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Dan

    The playcalling hasn’t been great in the red zone. Which has been an ongoing issue for awhile now.

  • WreckIess

    I’d like to see them show more variety in the red zone from here on out. I’m just not a fan of the shotgun in the red zone because of how it effects the run game down here. It makes the defense less willing to commit to the run and it cuts off one side of the field if we do want to run. I’d like to see Ben under center more in the red zone or at the very least in the pistol.

  • DSG

    Ben has always had trouble in the red zone. Remember years ago the excuse was bc he didnt have tall wrs in the red zone. Many qbs with smaller wrs and less talent put up better numbers in the red zone. Sorry but mostly the issue is ben not reading defenses right and his inability to throw wrs open.

  • Doogie

    Can we compare now to when Bettis was on the team?? I seem to remember they were pretty good in redzone at one time.. excluding 70s.. different people obviously

  • Doogie

    The second half of the Titans game, they seemed to do better, even made it look easy on the James TD. I dont remember them making it look easy very often this season. They look like they are fighting their selves at times in the redzone. Like going against what they do better just to change it up? IDK.. but figure out this issue and watch out..

  • We need more no-huddle.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    The o line are not good at blowing guys off the ball like they did back then. They rely more on movement and trickery. Also, Bell’s propensity to dance around is a detriment in the rz.

  • Ichabod

    No surprise here.
    Combination of Ben missing some receivers. Receivers dropping some passes. And Haley calling some poor plays.
    Otherwise successful

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    3 offensive coordinators yet the same problem persists. it was no different under Whisenhunt Ariens and now Haley. What’s the common denominator? Extrapolate over those three coordinators and see if there is any difference in terms of percentages and rankings in the Red Zone. Amazing how they always been middle of the pack under each OC. Coincidence? Hardly….

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    Exactly. If you are an honest Steelers fan and not some hero worshiper, then you have to ask the question and ask it honestly. When has Ben Roethlisberger ever dominated in the red zone his entire career? when has Roethlisberger just been absolutely completely thoroughly & consistently dominant in the red zone particularly on the road and in the postseason especially during his career? The answer is never.

  • Steve

    Can throw the excuse out of not having a tall WR or TE, with Jessie James being 6-7 and Bryant being 6-4. Bens biggest problem is finding the open receiver.

  • dennisdoubleday

    Actually, we’re very bad this year, which is unusual. The Steelers have pretty consistently been in the 12th – 17th range under Tomlin. We had a 7th finish in Tomlin’s first year, 2007, and 22nd finish in 2009, but other than that, middle of the pack. It is really worse this year. Perhaps it is because of all the road games early, and we’ll end up middle of the pack again.

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    You have to wonder at some point will this concerned Tomlin. Always finishing mediocre middle of the pack or worse can’t continue for the remainder of tomlin’s career. I would hope not. A definite area in need of improvement. It’s almost absurd considering the weapons this team has