If you would have told me before the season started that Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald would have a few drops in the team’s first five games I would have believed you. However, if you would have told me at that same time that McDonald wouldn’t have a single catch through five games I wouldn’t have believed you. Well, here we are with five regular season games now in the books and McDonald has a few drops and zero receptions.
Now, while McDonald hasn’t produced for the Steelers as a pass catcher through the first five weeks of the 2017 regular season, you might be shocked to know that the offense has produced as a whole whenever he’s been on the field.
According to our game charting, McDonald has been on the field for 73 offensive snaps in the Steelers first five games and the offense has averaged 6.01 yards a play whenever he’s on the field.
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On the 42 running plays that McDonald has been on the field for in the Steelers first five game the offense has averaged 4.33 yards per carry. Now, I must note that when McDonald was part of a personnel grouping that featured more than one tight end, 36 plays in total, the offense averaged 3.72 yards per carry. However, on the 6 running plays run out of 11 personnel that included McDonald as the lone tight end, the offense averaged 8.00 yards per carry.
So, what about when McDonald is on the field for pass plays?
That’s happened 31 times so far this season and the Steelers offense averaged 8.29 yards per play. That, by the way, is the highest average per pass play for one single player on the team entering Week 6. On the 19 pass plays that were run out of 11 personnel, meaning McDonald was the only tight end on the field, the offense averaged 7.21 yards per play. When part of a multi tight end personnel grouping, 12 plays in total, the Steelers offense averaged exactly 10 yards per pass play.
This certainly is an odd group of stats when it comes to one specific player and especially when you consider that McDonald has failed to register a reception. With that said, 73 offensive snaps equates to just 21.1% of all offensive plays run by the Steelers so far this season. In other words, it’s a relatively small sample size, but worth monitoring moving forward nonetheless.
More than anything, it would be nice to see McDonald start making a few plays as a pass catcher. However, while we wait for that to happen, at least take some comfort in the fact that the Steelers offense has produced nice yardage so far this season whenever McDonald has been on the field.