The Pittsburgh Steelers preseason Week 1 is now more than a week behind them as they get ready to take Heinz Field by storm in prime time Saturday night. To say it wasn’t a traditional week for the Steelers would be the understatement of the year. After loosing the beloved wide receivers coach Darryl Drake Sunday morning, football took a back burner to real life tragedy for a couple days. Once they got back on the practice field, the Steelers had only one full session open to the public to end training camp as bad weather forced them indoors prematurely on Tuesday and Thursday.
With training camp now behind them, the Steelers focus should be on marked improvements in various areas each week of the preseason. In this week’s installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at some statistics from the Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which need to improve in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Steelers averaged giving up 23.75 points a game during the 2018 preseason. After surrendering 28 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1, the Steelers face an even bigger offensive threat in Week 2. The Kansas City Chiefs led the NFL in scoring for Week 1 of the preseason, putting up 38 points on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs also led the league in scoring in the 2018 regular season with 35.3 points per game. In 2018, the Steelers gave up an average of 22.5 points per game. If they can hold the high-powered Chiefs to 24 points or less, it would be a major victory.
While they still had four less than their opponent, the 10 accepted penalties charged to the Steelers is high even for the preseason. With 12 or more penalties going against them the first three weeks of 2018, it should be a point of emphasis to get the penalties under control now before the games count in the standings.
I know, this statistic does not always paint an accurate story. But the Steelers giving up 31 first down to Tampa Bay last week is a concerning statistic. While a low number of first downs doesn’t always mean the defense is making stops, a high number is indicative of giving up long drives.
Another stat which could be skewed by the game situation, it’s never a good thing for a defense to be in the neighborhood of giving up 500 yards to their opponents. Part of the reason Tampa Bay may have been able to rack up a good bit of yardage was because they were attempting to come from behind to win the game. Even while holding a significant lead for three-quarters of their Week 1 game, the Kansas City Chiefs still reached 400 yards of offense. If the Steelers can keep the Chiefs from eclipsing the 400-yard mark for the second week in a row, it could be a significant victory as long as the game isn’t a blowout.
One thing Steelers fans failed to witness last week at Heinz Field was a rushing touchdown. As much as the quarterback play was entertaining as three players are battling for two spots, seeing a Steelers’ running back reach the end zone for the first time can be as equally entertaining. In 2018, the Steelers averaged one rushing touchdown a game in the regular season and 1.25 in the preseason. Getting at least one rushing touchdown against the Chiefs would be a welcomed site.
So there are some numbers to use as a measuring stick in terms of improvement for the Steelers second game of the 2019 preseason. Which number would you most like to see the Steelers reach? Is there another one you’re looking for? Please leave your answers in the comments below!