The Pittsburgh Steelers called just 14 designed runs versus 42 players that were intended to be passes during Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. In spite of the wild disparity in numbers—especially in light of the fact that their quarterback is a rookie undrafted free agent—the coaches have not given much indication that they feel they made a mistake in playcalling.
Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was asked yesterday if he felt in hindsight that the team moved away from the running game too quickly. “I don’t know about that. The whole situation in the second half might have dictated it a little bit more”, he told reporters yesterday, via a transcript.
“I think maybe at halftime it might have been 50/50”, he added, though in reality they never trailed by more than one possession. “I don’t know if it is always about the number. You like to kick yourself sometimes and be like, ‘yeah, we probably should have run it a little bit more here. Maybe should have passed it a little bit more on first down’. Things like that”.
Fichtner is in just his second season as offensive coordinator, though he had prior experience many years ago at the college level being the one to call plays. He has admitted in the past that he has felt he should have called more runs, though I don’t think he has said that after any game this season.
“Again, it goes back to efficiency”, he said. “You have to be efficient when we actually do call a run and the pass and expect that we will protect the ball as well when we do decide to pass or run it”.
of their 14 designed runs, seven of those plays were successful carries, even if the average might not necessarily show it, such as gaining two yards on a 2nd-and-3. They also had five rushes go for no yards or lost yardage, or which resulted in a fumble and a loss of possession.
Prior to Sunday’s game, however, the Steelers had been running the ball effectively. They rushed for at least 124 yards as a team in each of their three games prior, including a high of 159. Benny Snell and Kerrith Whyte had both been finding roles.
James Conner’s return didn’t mark any turn in favor of calling runs, however. He had just eight rushes, two of which went for 15-plus yards. No other running back had more than two carries for the Steelers on the night.