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How can the Pittsburgh Steelers fix their offensive red-zone issues?

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The Pittsburgh Steelers started the year off with a red-hot red-zone offense, but finished with a resounding dud. What can be done this offseason?

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense set the bar high for themselves in 2016. A goal of 30 points per game is no easy feat, yet they aspired to prove Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and company would be more than capable of accomplishing such a daunting task.

The team started off on the right track with a tremendous offensive red-zone unit, but as the season progressed the unit seemed to be going in the wrong direction. At the most important juncture of the season, the playoffs, the team’s red-zone offense went ice cold.

So, what exactly are the issues with the team’s red-zone offense, and how can they be rectified?

Personnel

The Steelers did have their ‘Big 3’ in Bell, Brown and Ben, but other than those three and a dominating offensive line, they lacked playmakers. Sammie Coates played the season banged up, Eli Rogers was learning as he went and the absence of Martavis Bryant was noticeable.

Play Calling

The Steelers often got pass-happy in the red-zone, and that wasn’t a recipe for success for the unit. Their lack of balance in the most important area of the field allowed defenses to ignore the fact the team could run the football and instead drop everyone in coverage leaving small windows for success.

Execution

Every play called in the game of football is designed to succeed, if you execute the play properly. The Steelers failed at this far too often in the biggest games. Whether it was Ben Roethlisberger’s untimely tipped pass which resulted in an interception against the Kansas City Chiefs, or the offensive line getting blown off the ball on a 1st and goal from the one foot line against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

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In 2016, the Steelers ranked 16th in the league in red-zone scoring offense, with a 54.24 percentage. That is a slight step backwards from their 2015 percentage of 57.14. The most telling statistics, when looking at the red-zone, would be their home and away splits. The Steelers had a 72.41-percent at home, with a 36.67 away from Heinz Field. These numbers absolutely mirror Roethlisberger’s home and away splits in 2016.

So, with that said, how can the team fix these issues? While some might think a free agent or draft pick would be the answer, I don’t see it. If the team can have a healthy Ladarius Green, and Martavis Bryant is able to return, they would fill two huge voids on the offensive side of the football, including the red-zone.

Plain and simple, I feel if they stay balanced on offense, execute the plays and have their full arsenal of players available I feel the red-zone offense could be much improved in 2017.

A lot to discuss, and I give my thoughts on what the Steelers should do, and my prediction on what they will do in the podcast player above. Simply click play to give the 10 minute show a listen.

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