Arguably the greatest surprise of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 season in their first year helmed by Randy Fichtner at offensive coordinator was the fact that they were incredibly prolific in the red zone offensively. They led the league in red-zone touchdown percentage with one of the best scoring rates that we have seen in years.
Now, that wasn’t necessarily just Fichtner’s magic touch. The Steelers have consciously put in years and years of work and practice in this area, starting with the incorporation, several years ago, of the ‘Seven Shots’ drill that works on goal-line situations.
Many of those red-zone scores also came paired with other aspects of situational football, in particular the two- and four-minute offense, as the Steelers were among the league leaders in scoring points at the end of halves. That is yet another thing that they consciously work on.
They began installing the two-minute offense this week during mandatory minicamp, which Head Coach Mike Tomlin discussed after practice yesterday. “We’ve been slow and methodical about the two-minute installation, but as we get toward the end here at the end of the spring, we’ve got an emphasis on it here in the last week”, he said.
“It’s good to see guys operate under situations. And it also aids in the drill when we have NFL officials here like we have here this week. So it’s been productive on a lot of fronts. A lot of good things to talk about and teach and learn from”.
Later on as he was addressing reporters’ questions, he was asked if there was a difference this season in how he was addressing situational work at this time of year. “It’s just one of those necessary things”, he said. “Tomorrow, as we bring it to a close, we’ll be working end of the half, end of the game. You always want to have a lot of that situational stuff installed so you can get it on video and use it as a teach tool when you re-install it when we go to training camp”.
“That’s really what it’s about”, he went on, is “having an opportunity to get it installed, have some things to coach off of and learn from on video so that when the real installation comes we’re not talking in abstract fashions. They’re not looking at other people executing it. They’re looking at themselves in some way execute it”.
In spite of their offensive success in some vital situational offensive football last season, the Steelers of course still fell short. What that tells you is that they have to be as good in those areas or even better this season in the hopes of having success this year, even if they make minor strides elsewhere in their weaknesses.