There are many ways in which you can argue that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been having perhaps their greatest offensive season in franchise history. Their points per game, with one left to play, is the highest it’s ever been, their red zone efficiency is through the roof, and individual players have been setting records seemingly left and right.
That doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t end in wins, however. That’s the approach that new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner is taking toward the end of his first year on the job. The Steelers have only won eight games, along with a tie, meaning that they have failed to score more than the other team seven times out of 15 opportunities. Even though their numbers were worse last year, they still went 13-3, and that’s what matters most.
Late last week, Fichtner was asked about his opinion on the offense and if it was performing at an all-time high, and he reflected the above mentality. “I wouldn’t say that unless we’re winning”, he told reporters, per the team’s communication’s department.
“The whole thing is coming back to we’ve got to outscore them no matter what, and we didn’t last week and we haven’t over the last month and a half”, he said. The Steelers have lost four of their past five games despite holding either a share of the lead or an outright lead at some point in the fourth quarter in each of them.
“So to me, that’s the most important thing, and that’s the only thing that really matters in the end. Were they doing some good things? Yes. Were they doing some things that you’d like to have back? Yes. Have we protected the ball well enough? No, and that’s as a group. Some untimely situational put the ball on the ground can really hurt”.
And of course he’s not wrong. While the defense has given up far too many leads in the fourth quarter, the Steelers have turned the football over on 14.6 percent of their offensive possessions, which is the sixth-highest rate in the NFL. They may gain the fifth-most yards per play, but their 25 giveaways are the seventh-most in the league, and many of them have been extremely costly.
Obviously the situation works both ways. Neither the offense nor the defense have been consistent enough in performing in clutch situations this year. The special teams unit has to be thrown in there as well for obvious reasons, which has cost them at game or two.
Sometimes the luck of the draw goes for or against you, and perhaps some of that has been at play this season, but they have had a lot of opportunities to create their own luck that they have squandered. That includes this highly talented offense that has put up some fantastic, even impressive numbers, which is why they’re barely above .500 right now and may well not see the postseason.