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Fichtner’s Main Goal As Steelers New OC Should Be Fixing Red Zone Efficiency

If there was one thing the Pittsburgh Steelers offense did well during the 2017 season it was the ability to move the football down the field. After all, they finished fourth in the NFL in average yards per drive with a 35.62 stat. That should be expected, however, with the litany of talented players they have on that side of football. From quarterback, to wide receivers, to running back, and even offensive linemen, it’s a talented bunch and expected to stay together. With that said, one area where the Steelers offense wasn’t so great at last season was inside the red zone and that’s a phase of the game that their new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner will need to work hard at to improve.

The Steelers offense made 63 trips to the red zone during the 2017 regular season and only 32 of them culminated in touchdowns. While those 63 red zone trips were the most a Steelers offense has managed to register during a regular season since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie, the unit’s 50.79% touchdown conversion rate was their lowest percentage since the 2010 season, the year that Roethlisberger only played in 12 games. That 50.79% was also ranked 22nd overall in the NFL.

While the Steelers offense did register a 75.86% goal-to-go touchdown percentage during the regular season, the unit only faced such situations 29 times and that’s just 46% of their 63 total red zone trips.

When it comes to Roethlisberger’s red zone passing stats from the 2017 regular season, he only completed 51.1% of his 90 total attempts. It’s worth noting, however, that 20 of his 28 total touchdown passes that threw came in that area of the field. Its also worth noting that Roethlisberger was just 8 of 16 passing on 3rd down plays that were run between the opponent’s 19 and 11 yard-lines and only one of those completions were a touchdown. Additionally , only 6 of those competitions were successful ones,

In theory, the Steelers offense should be able to move the football in 2018 just as well as they did this past season and that should equate to 55 to 65 red zone trips. If Fichtner can get improve the unit’s touchdown conversion rate on red zone trips by 10%, that will certainly result in a lot more points being scored.

When Steelers team president Art Rooney II holds his annual season-ending session with the media over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t mention that the offense’s red zone percentage needs drastic improvement. After all, yards are nice, but touchdowns are even better and especially early in games. By the way, the Steelers offense converted just 17 of their 33 (51.5%) first half red zone trips into touchdowns during the 2017 regular season.

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