2018 Week 9 Offensive Charting Notes

The Pittsburgh Steelers already have yet another game to play tonight, but before we get there we need to go back to Sunday’s game, a key victory over the divisional rival Baltimore Ravens on the road, who already defeated the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The win put them at 5-2-1, preserving their lead in the AFC North and dropping the Ravens to 4-5, on the edge of irrelevance already.

And in doing so, there were three prominent themes on offense: using passing sets yet still running the ball; having success in situational football; and keeping the quarterback clean. The fact that his only sack was a meaningless one points to the latter.

  • Personnel groupings:
    • 01: 8/80 (10%)
    • 11: 67/80 (83.8%)
    • 12: 5/80 (6.3%)
  • They only used three personnel packages for the entire game. And they used four wide receivers together more frequently than they used two tight ends together. This has to be a first in franchise history. I know there are other teams who make more extensive use of three- and four-receiver sets than Pittsburgh does, but this usage rate is crazy.
  • And it also worked. They threw the ball well and they ran the ball well. I’ll talk about the latter in a separate article today as well.
  • It’s very worth noting that a week after not even dressing, rookie James Washington was on the field for 71 of 80 offensive snaps, which, in case you couldn’t guess, is a pretty high number.
  • Also, for the first time this season, the Steelers used 01 personnel sets that didn’t include Ryan Switzer, as Darrius Heyward-Bey got two snaps (three in total, including the last offensive play of the game).
  • Perplexingly, Ben Roethlisberger had two passes batted down during the game (possibly three, another at the goal line that was too difficult to tell for me to note). One was very nearly intercepted by Matt Judon on a bubble screen if I recall correctly.
  • The Steelers had a season-high three dropped passes in the game, one by JuJu Smith-Schuster, another by Vance McDonald, and one by James Conner. Rookie James Washington also had a pass he had go off his knee, but I attributed that to the timing of the throw.
  • Roethlisberger (or rather the team) used play action on eight of 54 dropbacks, or about 15 percent, but it wasn’t effective, including both of his batted passes. He officially went 1-for-5 on those plays. Joshua Dobbs went 1-for-1 for 22 yards.
  • The Ravens liked to bring the blitz, doing so 18 times, or exactly one third. The offense averaged 4.4 yards on these plays, though only two of them resulted in failed third-down conversions. In fact, they went 5-for-7 in converting on third or fourth down against the blitz.
  • Average depth of target: 7.37 (51 targets; 48 official)
    • Vance McDonald: 6.7 (6 targets)
    • Antonio Brown: 11.4 (13 targets; 11 official)
    • Jesse James: 10.7 (3 targets)
    • James Conner: -1.4 (9 targets)
    • JuJu SmithSchuster: 9.9 (10 targets; 9 official)
    • James Washington: 8.4 (5 targets)
    • Ryan Switzer: 1.5 (4 targets)
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