The regular season is now over, 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 postseason 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 playoffs as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to playoff success, in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Who will step up as the Steelers’ number two target?
Outside of Antonio Brown, who is doing anything in the passing game lately? Now, yes, the Steelers are running the ball quite a bit—59 carries from Le’Veon Bell versus 49 pass attempts through two postseason games for Ben Roethlisberger—but one would think that we should be seeing a bit more from somebody.
Through two postseason games, Roethlisberger has thrown for 421 yards. Brown has 232 of those yards, or more than 55 percent of the Steelers’ total passing output. The only other player who has even 50 yards is tight end Jesse James, who had his biggest output as a receiver of his career in the last game, benefiting from some RPOs to get open for 83 yards, with 89 yards in total through two postseason games.
Eli Rogers’ 46 yards is the next-best, and there is nobody else with even 30 receiving yards. Bell has an incredible three receiving yards so far on four receptions. He had negative yardage as a receiver in the last game—though, of course, he rushed for 170 yards.
But it would seem to me that something has got to give. If the Steelers are going to get to the Super Bowl, I don’t know that they can rely almost entirely upon Roethlisberger, Brown, and Bell to get them there. Have they found something with James’ ability to find the zones off of play-action with an effective running game?
Rogers has at times looked like that number two target, but he has been relatively limited so far, though he did have a key 19-yard reception early against the Dolphins. In Kansas City, he had a chance at a touchdown that he was unable to adjust to.
It’s not looking like Ladarius Green will be playing. Everybody else seems to be just playing their roles, catching a pass or two a game. But to get over the Patriots hurdle, they might need another option to step up and help take over the game. So who is that going to be? Bell? I suppose he would be the most likely candidate.