One of the biggest issues that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had this season has been making the most of their opportunities. Of particular concern has been the offense’s performance inside of the red zone. Against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, they have four opportunities inside the red zone, and only got one touchdown out of it.
That brought their season-long red zone touchdown percentage down to 38.10 percent on the year, which ranks 28th in the NFL. The only four teams who are ranked worse are Arizona, Washington, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati. Two of the four have been starting rookie quarterbacks for most of the year. The other had their quarterback injured last year. And the other one had Andy Dalton.
Anyway, the point is, they’re not keeping good company. And in actuality, there is a steep incline up. The Kansas City Chiefs are ranked one spot above them, but have a better percentage by six and a half points. That’s a larger range than that which separates the Steelers from the Bengals at the bottom of the list.
While the red zone woes started with Ben Roethlisberger still under center, most of the season has been conducted by second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph, and he took responsibility for the team’s issues getting touchdowns inside the 20-yard line.
“We definitely have to do it. It starts with me”, he told reporters yesterday, via a transcript provided by the team’s media department. “As an offense, we have to be more aggressive and maybe give our guys those 50/50 shot chances and it starts with me there”.
The most frustrating failure, however, came on the ground last week. Trey Edmunds was given the carry on second and goal from the one-foot line, and he lost yardage when he had a lane to follow David DeCastro pulling to the outside. They ultimately settled for one of four Chris Boswell field goals, three of which came in the red zone.
“It is those four-point plays where you don’t want to forfeit the three that you have but we know to win in this league”, Rudolph added “Seven versus three points is a big difference and I think that will separate you from winning a lot of games and losing. The way our defense is playing, we have to convert those four-point plays”.
If there is some good news, then it is that the Los Angeles Rams have the second-worst red-zone defense that the Steelers have faced this year, allowing a touchdown on 57.14 percent of opponent trips inside the 20, which ranks 18th. Only the Miami Dolphins, allowing 64.29 percent of their red zone opportunities to record touchdowns, has been worse among the defense Pittsburgh has gone up against this year.