The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak.
The play called may (or may not) be well-designed, but the execution is lacking.
Whatever the diagnosis is - and it depends on which side of the Haley Civil War you're on - nothing can mask the fact the Steelers are averaging 17.9 points a game this season. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said Thursday he feels his offense is on the cusp of "being pretty good."
Clearly, he doesn't want to push it too far, but maybe going from where the offense currently is to "pretty good" is a leaps-and-bounds improvement.
"We’ve had a lot of moving parts - not that anybody else hasn’t - but we’ve had to overcome and mix and match a little bit but I do feel like we’re close to playing the way we have to play for us to win on a weekly basis."
Thorough yet vague, informative yet dry, hopeful yet rhetorical. A well-manufactured piece of Coach Speak.
Translation: I don't know how we can score points with the guys we currently have. Had Haley said that, it'd be the most revealing quote from a Steelers coach in two years.
The only thing Haley's offense is on the cusp of is scoring less than 20 points a game for four straight games, something the Steelers haven't done since 2004, according to ESPN. To what end Haley actually feels like the offense is ready to explode might have something to do with which incendiary device he's picturing - a stick of dynamite or a Black Cat.
In 23 games as the offensive coordinator for the Steelers, Haley's unit has averaged just a shade over 20 points a game and has scored over 30 points once - in a loss at Oakland in 2012, which isn't to be mistake with the loss at Oakland in 2013, when the team scored 18 points. The second-highest output was 27, which the team has done three times, and lost one of those games.
He's right, though. It's fair to point out injuries have written their own chapter of Haley's legacy in Pittsburgh. But more to the concept of players not participating is the lack of players who can explode in a positive manner on the field. Antonio Brown hasn't been hurt, and he's played at a high level. He catches third down passes (everywhere except Oakland), but even with 73 targets, he has two touchdowns. Third receiver Jerricho Cotchery has 34 targets...and two touchdowns. Running back Le'Veon Bell has yet to score a touchdown in a winning effort.
Possessions are far more important than the time of possession the Steelers offense seems to be aimed to have. If quarterback Ben Roethlisberger turns the ball over, the Steelers lose the game. That's been the way of it in the Haley regime. The Steelers are 7-1 when Roethlisberger does not throw an interception since 2012 - he only played half the game against the Chiefs in Week 10 last year, but didn't throw an interception.
So as far as exploding goes, it may be nitpicky to question the level of explosion we may eventually see, but it's certainly fair to wonder if the players on this offense are capable of achieving such an inflamed state of production.
They haven't under Haley after 23 games. Why is that going to change?
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