The post on Friday about Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders led to a few questions regarding how many times he was used last year within the red zone, and I have now pulled those numbers for you from our charting that we did last season.
Of the 740 offensive snaps that Sanders played in 2012; only 78 of them came when the Steelers had the ball inside their opponents 20 yard-line. You can see the breakdown of the personnel groupings of those 78 snaps in the table below.
Of those 78 snaps, we charted 45 of those plays being passes and that includes four spikes of the football to kill the clock in addition. On 37 of those 45 passing plays, the Steelers had three or more wide receivers on the field.
Sanders was targeted a total of six times inside the red zone, and he caught three of those passes with one going for a touchdown. One of the incompletions drew a pass interference call as well. Three of those targets and one reception came out of the 11 personnel package, while the other three targets and two receptions came out of the 21 personnel package. Here is something else to keep in mind. Three of those six red zone targets came when fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown was out injured last season.
Being that Sanders will now be the No. 2 wide receiver with Mike Wallace now gone, he should obviously see not only more snaps inside the red zone, but more targets in addition. In 2012, Wallace was targeted 18 times in total inside the opponents 20 yard-line, and he caught 11 of those passes with three going for touchdowns.
Tight end Heath Miller led the team with 20 targets inside the red zone in 2012 and with him possibly being slowed at the start of the 2013 season, both Sanders and Brown could figure to pick a few red zone targets as a result of that.
Just as a point of reference, the Steelers offense, according to our charting, ran 136 plays inside their opponents 20 yard-line last season with 62 of them featuring three or more wide receivers on the field.
I hope this answers the questions a few of you had.
2012 Red Zone Snaps For Emmanuel Sanders