The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is an oddity in 2019. Since Ben Roethlisberger was injured in the team’s Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, fans have watched Mason Rudolph dink-and-dunk the offense to a 4-4 record.
Rudolph’s primary targets have been running backs, and nothing highlighted this more than the 13 receptions by Jaylen Samuels in Week 9 as the team was able to beat the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field.
Checking the ball down is one thing, and designing short passes are another. Either way, when the ball is thrown short you have to rely on Yards After the Catch (YAC) to move the football down the field.
When it comes to Yards After the Catch percentage, the percentage of the team’s offensive receiving yards gained after the catch), the Steelers are tops in the NFL. Check out the graphic below courtesy of NFL Matchup on ESPN’s verified Twitter account:
These teams have the highest percentage of their receiving yards gained after the catch so far this season. #HereWeGo #TakeFlight #Colts #GoNiners #RaiderNation #BroncosCountry #GoPackGo #Browns #Saints #Skol @gregcosell | @MattBowen41 pic.twitter.com/WvvmdZeXx9— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) November 6, 2019
62.41% is far and away the most in the NFL, and at first when you look at stats like this you see it as awesome your favorite team is leading in any positive offensive category. However, when you look at it from a schematic standpoint this lofty number reeks of the Steelers settling for check downs and short passes rather than the high-flying offense once deployed weekly by the black-and-gold.
Mason Rudolph is a young quarterback with just a handful of starts under his belt, but if the Steelers are going to be considered legitimate contenders in the AFC North, the AFC or the NFL, the offense is going to have to start pushing the ball downfield at one point or another.
Will it be this week when the Los Angeles Rams come to Heinz Field in a Week 10 showdown? Very little has been seen which would give the vast Steelers fan base much confidence, but if there is one takeaway here it is the Steelers have found ways to win without throwing it deep.
But it is only a matter of time until the league adjusts and forces the Steelers’ hands when it comes to how they handle the passing game.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the NFC West Rams on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.