2018 First Quarter Offensive Charting Notes

The Pittsburgh Steelers are through one quarter of the season now, meaning that we can start to see some trends form as to how they choose to go about running their offense. While a larger sample size is still necessary to sort out some finer details, and in-game factors that bias the numbers, there are a few things we can talk about to date.

  • Personnel groupings:
    • 01: 32/299 (10.7%)
    • 11: 205/299 (68.6%)
    • 12: 21/299 (7.0%)
    • 13: 6/299 (2.0%)
    • 22: 28/299 (9.4%)
    • 23: 2/299 (0.7%)
    • V-32: 5/299 (1.7%)
  • One thing is quite obvious, and that is that the Steelers like their wide receivers. They have already used three wide receivers on the field more than two thirds of the time without even adding in the use of the four-receiver set, which accounts for another 10 percent.
  • And that last note is striking and noteworthy all of its own accord, a fact I will elaborate on further in another article. With the addition of Ryan Switzer, who has been used on all of the team’s 01 personnel snaps, the Steelers have made the four-receiver set a routine part of their offense. It’s become the second-most-used personnel package, as a matter of fact.
  • What will be interesting to see is how that continues as the season progresses, assuming that things change. The Steelers have made it a habit of digging holes for themselves to start games, which hinders the usage of run-heavy packages.
  • Take, for example, the 22 personnel package, their favored run look. 17 of the 28 snaps played from that package so far came in the season opener, with the majority of the rest coming against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those are also the only two games in which they ever had a lead.
  • As the weeks have gone by, it’s become clear that Vance McDonald is the tight end the team would prefer to use in no-huddle situations. Against the Ravens, for example, he played 10 of their 14 no-huddle snaps.
  • Running back James Conner had played 259 of the Steelers’ 299 snaps. He’s gotten a whopping 40 snaps’ worth of breathing time, and average of 10 snaps per game, through the first four weeks.
  • The Steelers have used play action on just 21 of 213 dropbacks, but they have averaged 11.7 yards per play when they have used it. On 19 official pass attempts—one sack, one penalty—Ben Roethlisberger has completed 14 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
  • The team has struggled a bit against the blitz, averaging 6.3 yards per play while facing 58 blitzes, about one quarter of all dropbacks. It has netted four sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one touchdown.
  • Average depth of target: 7.97 (197 targets)
    • Vance McDonald: 6.0 (15 targets)
    • Xavier Grimble: 23 (1 target)
    • Antonio Brown: 9.86 (56 targets)
    • Jesse James: 10.73 (15 targets)
    • James Conner: 0.81 (26 targets)
    • Stevan Ridley: 4 (1 target)
    • JuJu SmithSchuster: 7.98 (50 targets)
    • James Washington: 15.5 (12 targets)
    • Justin Hunter: 12.38 (8 targets)
    • Ryan Switzer: 2.69 (13 targets)
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