Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II was a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio during the team’s Friday Night Lights practice at Latrobe High School and perhaps the most interesting question he was asked during the interview was: What’s the one main area he wants to see the team improve upon in 2017?
“I think, number one, we have been improving in a number of areas and so, I think we just need to be a consistent football team,” Rooney said.
Rooney didn’t stop there, however.
“One of the things we’ve had over the years is that we’ve been a little uneven, a little inconsistent here and there and last year, like being in the red zone, we’ve got to be better in the red zone and it’s just a matter of being consistent,” he said.” And I think we’ve got all those pieces there if we just maintain a steady level of play throughout every game, throughout every week, that’s what we need.”
Rooney pointing to wanting more consistency in the red zone in 2017 isn’t overall surprising and especially when it comes to home and away games. Last season, the Steelers offense posted a 59.18% red zone scoring percentage and that tied them for 12th in the league.
When you drill down further, however, you’ll see that at home the Steelers offense converted 73.08% of their red zone trips into touchdowns and that was second-best in the league. On the road, however, the offense converted just 43.48% of their red zone trips into touchdowns and that was sixth-worst in the league.
As most of you already know by now, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t great on the road last season. In fact, when it came to his passing numbers inside the red zone last season on the road, he completed just 10 of 26 regular season pass attempts for 57 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked twice in that area of the field.
In case you’re curious, or may have forgot, Roethlisberger was 3 of 4 passing for 15 yards and a touchdown inside the red zone in the Steelers 2016 road opener against the Washington Redskins and that means he was a brutal 7 of 22 on the road in that area of the field in the six other away games he played in.
By now, you’re probably wondering what kind of running success the Steelers had inside the red zone last season. If you throw out the three kneel down plays and one scramble for a touchdown by Roethlisberger, the Steelers offense ran the football a total of 27 times inside the red zone on the road in 2016. 12 (44.4%) of those runs were “successful ones” related to down and distance. At home and inside the red zone last season, 7 of 14 runs were “successful ones.”