You may have noticed that on Sunday Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green was not as big a part of the offense as he was a week earlier. In that game, against the Giants, the fifth-year tight end posted career-highs in virtually every category with 11 targets, yielding six receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Against the Bills on Sunday in the snow, however, he caught just two passes for 25 yards, and he was only targeted on six passes, many of them on low-percentage throws. In all, the free agent signing only played 28 of the Steelers’ 75 snaps, or just 37 percent of the total, after playing nearly 50 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps the week before.
I can’t help but wonder if the game circumstances, and an early incompletion, had a lot to do with why he was not as big a part of the proceedings on Sunday—aside from the obvious, which is that they ran the ball nearly 40 times and only threw 31 passes.
The target to which I am referring, of course, was the one that put an end to Pittsburgh’s first possession. On second and five, from the Bills’ 15-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger targeted Green on a route on which the quarterback assumed that he would continue to work toward the middle of the field.
Instead, the tight end broke out further to the sideline, and it was the linebacker in coverage who was in the spot that Roethlisberger was throwing, which resulted in the first of his three interceptions on the day, and the only one that was not clearly on his shoulders.
This turnover was the result of a quarterback and a receiver having a lack of reps together and not having a great natural understanding of what one another is looking to do. In fact, I would suggest that a decent number of the incompletions that have been thrown in Green’s direction so far could be at least in part attributed to the fact that he and Roethlisberger are still in the laboratory when it comes to establishing a rapport.
Roethlisberger and Green also failed to connect on a throw earlier in that drive on a ball that appeared to be a bit overthrown, but the quarterback may have expected the tight end to be a bit further upfield. Their first, and most important, hookup came on the second drive, however.
Facing a third and 10, the tight end came out of the left slot on a crossing route and caught a five-yard pass, slipping inside of one tackle and backing his way upfield for an 18-yard gain to the 11-yard line.
The other two incompletions were not particularly notable, and can be chalked up to low-percentage passes on which the ball was not appropriately placed due to the high degree of difficulty. Green may not have had the encore that he was looking for after his big game, but that should not discourage the hope for a repeat offense.