Steelers 3rd Down Stats Woes

The article by John Harris and the Steelers 2009 3rd downs woes got me thinking about what the Steelers offensive stats on 3rd and short this year. I classify 3rd and short to be 3 yards or less. This should be a high conversion rate to play winning football. Converting these 3rd and shorts ought to be somewhere in the 65-70 percentage success rate. As you can see by the table below, the Steelers have only a 58% 3rd down conversion rate on 3rd and short. This is not acceptable if you expect to win close ball games, which the Steelers have had several of this season. The shorter the distance, even higher the percentage should be, but once again on 3rd and 1 the Steelers are only 61% and 3rd and 2 they are 54%.

Steelers 3rd Down & Short Stats

D&D Total Plays Run Plays Pass Plays Sacked Run Conv Pass Conv Conv %
3rd&1 28 23 5 2 14 3 61%
3rd&2 13 2 11 1 1 6 54%
3rd&3 7 0 7 1 0 4 57%
Total 48 25 23 4 15 13 58%

A great running game should be able to execute a 3rd and 2 yards or less at least 70% of the time you would think, but in 25 running plays that were either runs by a running back or quarterback sneaks, the Steelers only converted 60% of those. The question begs though if they abandoned the use of the running back too soon on most 3rd downs and short as well. Rashard Mendenhall has seemed to improve as the year has gone on, but overall the Steelers have had run and passed almost equally on 3rd and short with 25 runs and 23 passes or attempts. If you throw out the 3rd and 3 stats and leave only 3rd and 2 or less, out of 41 plays they still tried to pass 16 times. That is 39%. Way too high, especially if you are only converting 9 of those 16 times for first downs. That is only a 56% conversion rate. I think the biggest stand out stat is on 7 3rd and 3 chances this season, The Steelers have passed all 7 times. Amazing and shows no faith in the running game.

Once again the debate will linger if it is the play calling or no faith in the personnel. You can bet these stats will be looked at heavily though in making a determination if Bruce Arians stays or not as offensive coordinator. Whatever the case, these 3rd and short stats need to improve in 2010 if the Steelers want to go back to the playoffs.

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