Despite starting 11-0 to the 2020 regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense would like to keep last year in the past. It was last season when the Steelers sported a shiny undefeated record, but failed to do anything exceptionally well.
They didn’t run the ball well.
They didn’t pass the ball extremely well.
But if there was one thing they did well, it was throw the ball quickly, and short. Last season Ben Roethlisberger was near the bottom of the league in everyone’s favorite new statistic “air yards”.
For those who track these statistics, like ESPN’s NextGen Stats, the Steelers Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills was eerily similar to the same type of statistics Roethlisberger put up last season.
Take a look:
“Ben Roethlisberger was the quickest to throw at 2.3 sec [in Week 1]. Coincidentally, Big Ben’s average time to throw in the 2020 regular season was 2.3 sec, the quickest among all QBs. He was the 2nd most aggressive passer, throwing into a tight window on 31.3% of his passes. Despite throwing into a tight window at a high rate, Roethlisberger continued his tendency to throw short passes, averaging 5.7 air yards/attempt, tied for 4th shortest in Week 1. Through all of 2020, Roethlisberger averaged 7.1 air yards/attempt, 10th shortest among all QBs.”
Fans of the black and gold expected something new when Matt Canada took over the offense for Randy Fichtner, but are we just seeing more of the same?
To be fair, it is just one week, and the Steelers had to come from behind to win the football game. This can certainly throw off any offensive coordinator’s best laid plans, but anyone who watched the Week 1 game couldn’t help but think to themselves how this looked like a newer version of the old offense.
This is what Matt Canada had to say about how many shotgun snaps Roethlisberger had in Buffalo last Sunday.
“It’s based upon how the game goes, and I think there’s a lot of speculation about what we wanna do and how we wanna do it. We wanna run the football. We don’t wanna drop back, per se, and have so many dropped back pass protections. Are we under center, are we in the gun, are we running it? All those things, we’re trying to do schematically as we go to protect our line, but if we have to drop back so many times to win a game, we’re gonna do it. If we have to be under center, we’re gonna do it.”
The Steelers’ defense proved they will game plan in a variety of ways to beat an opponent, and the offense will have to deploy the same line of thinking in Week 2 when the Las Vegas Raiders come to Heinz Field for the team’s home opener. Let’s hope the Steelers offense isn’t just more productive, but also more diverse and dynamic. It all starts up front, but if the offense reverts back to 2020 mode when things go awry, that might not be the best safety valve.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Raiders this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.