The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Will Eli Rogers get more involved on offense against the Eagles?
Over the course of the first two games of the season, second-year wide receiver Eli Rogers has managed to make an impact on the first half of each game—the first game much more so than against the Bengals—but he has been very quiet in terms of opportunities and production in the second half of each game.
In fact, every one of his 10 targets through the first two games—seven in the opener and three on Sunday—have come in the first half of games, and there doesn’t appear to be any particularly compelling reason for why that might be.
While it is true that the Steelers have run more run formations in the second half while playing with the lead, Rogers has still been on the field for just over half of the team’s second-half snaps. They have run 71 plays in the second halves of games so far, and he has logged 36 snaps, none of them producing a target. In case you were wondering, 22 of those 36 plays were, in fact, passing plays.
The fact that Rogers’ production decreased from game one to game two, and from the first half to the second half, was not overlooked, and even Ben Roethlisberger acknowledged after the game that he wanted to get Rogers more involved that they were able to.
The young slot receiver had just one reception for eight yards, but it did come on third and eight. Three of his seven receptions, in fact, have gone for conversions on third and fourth down. He has, in all, seven receptions for 68 yards and one touchdown, with a long of 20 yards, and he has seemed close to breaking open on other opportunities.
The conditions were not ideal against Cincinnati, and the pass rush limited the number of reads that Roethlisberger was able to make on any given pass attempt, so it would not be surprising of Rogers has a more productive game against the Eagles, but Markus Wheaton’s return will also complicate things.