Ben Roethlisberger has gotten the majority of the criticism after his poor performance Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5, but to think the poor offensive performance was solely his fault is an oversight of the highest degree.
The past two weeks, the Steelers have labeled Eli Rogers inactive due to a coach’s decision. In other words, he’s healthy, but the team went with Justin Hunter instead. When they did this, they left themselves with only three true wide-receiver options at their disposal.
Yes, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter were active, but they combined for just six offensive snaps between them. Compare that to the combined 16 snaps that the tandem played in Week 4, when the team went to Baltimore and beat the Ravens.
Since Rogers has been out of the lineup, the Steelers have leaned heavily on only those three aforementioned receivers. No one else.
In the first-three weeks of the season, when Rogers was active and being used, he tallied 39 snaps in Week 1, 37 in Week 2 and 21 against the Bears in Week 3. That’s an average of 32 snaps per game. When he’s in the lineup, he’s a viable option at wideout, something Hunter and Heyward-Bey aren’t based on the snap counts.
Having Rogers in the lineup allows the Steelers to actually run more 4-wide offensive sets, as well as mix and match their receivers depending on the situation, something Roethlisberer alluded to earlier this week as an option moving forward. He talked about how Rogers is great at beating man coverage, while JuJu Smith-Schuster’s size and strength is better suited against zone coverage schemes.
No one has officially stated if Rogers indeed will be reinserted into the lineup in Week 6 vs. the Chiefs. But if he is, it would help expand a Steelers’ offense that has struggled to move the ball throughout the first-five weeks of the season.
Other Snap Count Tidbits:
- JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to get more snaps than Martavis Bryant since Week 3. Check out the numbers:
Week 3: JuJu - 51 / Marty B - 45
Week 4: JuJu - 54 / Marty B - 48
Week 5: JuJu - 65 / Marty B - 62
These counts are almost identical, but the fact a rookie is on the field almost as much as a veteran—even someone who missed a year due to suspension—can say either one of two things: Either they really like JuJu’s progress so far or they’re disappointed with Bryant upon his return.
- The Steelers’ use of defensive sub-packages certainly went down against the Jaguars, and this isn’t any shock considering how run-heavy the Jaguars’ offense is. But when Mike Hilton, the No. 3 cornerback on the team, plays only 17 snaps, and William Gay, the dime cornerback, only eight snaps, you know the team was going with bigger bodies to try to stop the run.
- With that said, Javon Hargrave still didn’t play as much as one would think, given the circumstances. He played in just 61 percent of the defensive plays (33 snaps). Hargrave is an extremely productive player, but Keith Butler seems to be struggling, whether by choice or as dictated by the game, to find ways to get him on the field regularly.
- Mike Mitchell, who’s been in and out of the lineup so far this season, spent his first game actually back on the field in Week 5. After splitting duties with J.J. Wilcox throughout the early portions of the season, Mitchell played for 47 defensive snaps (87 percent) while Wilcox played for only six snaps.
You can locate all of the snap-count data right HERE.