Before the start of the season, we broke down specific goals we wanted the Pittsburgh Steelers to hit this season. With the bye week providing some downtime and the team close to the midway point of the year, it’s an opportunity to see if they’re on track to hit those targets. We’ll break down the offense, defense, and special teams over the next couple of days. And we’ll revisit these at the end of the year, too.
Here were the goals we set for the offense back in early September.
Steelers Preseason Goals (Offense)
Goal: Have A Top 5 Red Zone Offense
Result: 28th Overall
Analysis: So…yeah. A little short of the mark. No one expected Ben Roethlisberger to miss the year, that’ll be a recurring talking point of this article, but 28th is still unacceptable. The Steelers have dropped from not only the #1 red zone offense in 2018 but a historically good one to among the league’s worst. Mike Tomlin said the offense can “substantially” get better and this is one of the big areas where they need to. Force me to revise this goal and I hope they finish the season middle of the pack. No worse than 18th.
Goal: Cut Red Zone Turnovers In Half (4 in 2018)
Result: Zero Turnovers
Analysis: Progress. Granted, there’s been far fewer chances to get into the red zone, meaning fewer chances to screw things up, but no turnovers are no turnovers. They’re one of just eight teams not to give the ball away inside the 20. I can live with a turnover or two if they get down there a lot more often but for now, this stat could be a lot uglier with the team working on their third QB.
Goal: Three Wide Receivers With At Least One 100+ Yard Game
Result: Zero Receivers
Analysis: You could call this one a little shy of the mark. So far, no receiver has topped 84 yards in a game, accomplished by JuJu Smith-Schuster in Week 2. Again, blame plenty of this on a team without Roethlisberger and one that’s resorted to starting a UDFA. This offense will have to come out of its shell, difficult as that may be, if they want to truly claw back into the AFC North race. Right now, it’s about putting your best receiver, JuJu, in position to succeed.
Goal: Roethlisberger Sacked No More Than 25 Times
Result: Five Sacks In Six Games
Analysis: Well, it won’t be Roethlisberger but let’s apply it to the entire team. They’re on a historically good pace right now, tied for the fewest sacks given up in football (and it’s with the Colts, who already had their bye) and it’s the fewest allowed by Pittsburgh in their first six games since the 1970 merger. The line hasn’t been perfect but they’ve protected their QB well and are much improved from the first three weeks of the year. On pace to allow only 13 sacks all season. That pace is unsustainable but they should end the year under that 25 goal.
Goal: 25 Or Fewer Team Turnovers
Result: 8 Giveaways
Analysis: On pace for 21 turnovers in 2019, putting them on track to reach this goal. They’ve thrown five interceptions and lost three fumbles (JuJu, Conner, Diontae Johnson). Not terrible, not great, Would be better than last year when they turned it over 26 times.
Goal: Ben Roethlisberger: Keep INT Rate The Same
Analysis: Unfortunately, this one didn’t get much of a chance to apply. Roethlisberger was lost six quarters into the season. His INT rate was 1.6%, one pick in 62 attempts, but there’s clearly too small of a sample size at play. So we’ll move on.
Goal: James Conner: Have First 1000 Yard Rushing Season
Result: 235 yards
Analysis: That puts him on pace for just 629 yards this season. He figures to end the year above that mark but given how slow of a start it’s been, hitting 1000 is a lofty goal at this point. He’ll have to average over 76 yards rushing per game the rest of the year. Put it this way. Conner nearly has as many yards receiving (231) as he does rushing (235).
Goal: James Washington: 10+ receptions of 20+ yards
Result: Three receptions of 20+ Yards
Analysis: Not a bad pace especially considering the haggard state of the offense. Washington’s vertical ability hasn’t fit well with an offense playing small ball and one trying to still figure out their identity. He had a 45 yarder in Week One then caught two for 21 and 26 yards versus the Baltimore Ravens. He missed last Sunday with a shoulder sprain.
Goal: Vance McDonald: Receptions And Yards Remain The Same, Touchdowns Go Up
Result: 14 receptions, 127 yards 2 TDs
Analysis: Sort of? Here’s his pace for the entire year: 37/339/5. But he missed one game and you would expect him to have at least one or two impressive performances. He should be able to edge out last year’s four scores and I think this prediction will largely come true.
Goal: Donte Moncrief: Match 2015’s Numbers
Result: 4 receptions, 18 yards 0 TDs
Analysis: Swing and a miss. Even if Moncrief ends things better than how he started, it’s impossible to do any worse, he’ll come nowhere close to that 2015 64/733/5 stat line. Nick Vannett has only been here a few weeks and has more yards than Moncrief does. He’s just trying to hang on the entire season and it still makes sense to cut him before Week 10 in order to preserve their 2020 comp pick for Le’Veon Bell.
Goal: Maurkice Pouncey: Cut Down Penalties. Matt Feiler: Improve Sack Rate
Result: Pouncey 1 Penalty, Feiler 1 Sack Allowed Over 207 Dropbacks
Analysis: So far, so good. Pouncey had five flags last year so he’s on track. Sample size is still small for Feiler and inflated because of this historically good pace the line is on but to put things in perspective, his sack rate was allowing one every 107 snaps in 2018, worst on the team.
Last thought. Of these 10 still applicable goals, we’re no longer counting Roethlisberger’s individual goal, they are on pace to accomplish just four of them, though there are a couple others that are still realistic like Washington’s receptions or McDonald’s receptions/yards.