To say that the Pittsburgh Steelers offense has missed having a healthy Sammie Coates on the field is an understatement.
While Coates has been trying to play through the two broken fingers that he suffered during the Week 5 game against the New York Jets, the Steelers deep pass offense has suffered tremendously being as he’s not fully healthy. To make matters worse, the Steelers other speedy deep threat, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, has missed the last game and a half with a foot injury and has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
In the four games that the Steelers have played since Coates broke his fingers, the Steelers quarterbacks have combined to complete just 8 of 35 (22.9%) deep pass attempts (penalty plays included) in which the football traveled 20 or more yards in the air past the original line of scrimmage. If you want a more detailed breakdown by quarterback when it comes to those throws, Ben Roethlisberger is 6 of 29 (20.7%) while Landry Jones was 2 of 6 (33.3%) in his one start against the New England Patriots.
By the way, 5 of those 8 completions came in the fourth quarter and you read into that stat what you will.
Of those 8 total deep pass completions of 20 yards or more, Coates and Heyward were not on the receiving end of any of them. Antonio Brown caught four of them while Eli Rogers and Cobi Hamilton caught two each. As you can imagine, both of Rogers’ catches came inside the numbers.
On the 22 throws that were targeted outside the numbers, where Coates usually has his success, only 4 have been completed with the longest being 37 yards down the field to Hamilton Sunday in the loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
To put these numbers into better perspective, during the first five weeks of the season, Roethlisberger was 15 of 32 (46.9%) (penalty plays included) on his deep pass attempts of 20 yards or more. 8 of those 15 completed passes went to either Coates or Heyward-Bey.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense really rely on completing a few deep pass completions in every game and by that, I mean the really long ones, the kind that include the football being thrown more than 30 yards in the air past the line of scrimmage. Those are drive changers. Only two such completions have taken place since Week 5.
While Hamilton’s play has been above-the-line ever since he was promoted from the practice squad, he just doesn’t have the speed that Coates and Heyward-Bey both possess.
Sunday, the Steelers will play the Browns in Cleveland and in addition to not having Heyward-Bey or a fully healthy Coates, heavy winds are expected during that contest which will make it tough for Roethlisberger to chunk the football deep at times.
In short, until the Steelers offense can get a fully healthy Coates and Heyward-Bey back on the field regularly, expect their offense to be deepless for the most part and especially outside the numbers.
Steelers Deep Passing Chart Weeks 6-10 (penalty plays included)