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Steelers' offense made key adjustments in red zone vs. 49ers

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The Steelers' offense abandoned its jumbo package and utilized tight end Heath Miller in the red zone against the 49ers.

Todd Haley let DeAngelo Williams handle the goal line duties in Week 2.
Todd Haley let DeAngelo Williams handle the goal line duties in Week 2.
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers' offense made two key adjustments to its red-zone offense by abandoning its jumbo package near the goal line and utilizing tight end Heath Miller in the 43-18 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.

Last week in New England, the Steelers racked up 483 yards of offense, but scored only 21 points, failing to capitalize on the majority of their red-zone opportunities.

Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley implemented a jumbo package near the goal line against the Patriots, in which 6-foot 9-inch, 320-pound tackle Alejandro Villanueva reports as eligible and H-back Will Johnson is lined up in the backfield behind fullback Roosevelt Nix. Johnson managed to score on a one-yard plunge from the goal line late in the third quarter, but he was held for no gain on two other attempts.

The Steelers abandoned the jumbo package against the 49ers and opted to use running back DeAngelo Williams near the goal line. The 10-year pro responded by tying a franchise record while scoring three rushing touchdowns. Johnson is a serviceable player but he lacks the quickness and agility of Williams, who's able to use cuts and make defenders miss in tight spaces.  At 5-foot 9-inches and 207 pounds, Williams is plenty big enough to power his way through would-be tacklers.

The jumbo package is also highly predictable, as Miller is the only real receiving threat, thus allowing the defense to key on stopping Johnson and Nix. The Steelers used a variety of bunch and spread formations in the red-zone against the 49ers, creating a mismatch for Miller against smaller defensive backs.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit Miller on a two-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter and connected with him again on a two-point conversion midway through the second quarter.

A few days ago, I wrote about the Steelers' offense needing to be more efficient at converting yardage into points, in order to compensate for a young and inexperienced defense. This week we saw Head Coach Mike Tomlin and Haley make the necessary offensive adjustments and the players executed the gameplan to perfection.

In Week 1, the Steelers converted 483 yards of offense into 21 points. In Week 2, they converted 453 yards of offense into 43 points simply by making a few key adjustments to their scheme and personnel.

The sky's the limit for this Steelers' offense, which regains the services of All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell against the St. Louis Rams this week, along with the prospect of deep-threat receiver Martavis Bryant coming back from suspension in two more weeks. As the coaching staff irons out the kinks and fresh reinforcements arrive, Steeler Nation can now sit back, relax and enjoy the show.