2020 Offseason Questions: Expectations For Fichtner Offense In 2020?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: What should we expect from a Randy Fichtner offense in 2020 with Ben Roethlisberger?

While he took a few missteps in his first season as offensive coordinator, for sure, acknowledging what he viewed as mistakes on several occasions during his weekly media availability, the Steelers’ offense in 2018 general performed well, highlighted by a league-best red zone percentage, a strong third-down and general situational football success rate, and the sixth-ranked scoring offense, averaging 26.8 points per game, despite having the league-worst average starting field position.

With only six quarters together with Roethlisberger under center, Pittsburgh’s offense was a shell of its former self a year ago, posting the worst red zone percentage in the league, amongst the worst in situational football, and averaging just 18.1 points per game in a year in which the defense and special teams contributed three touchdowns.

How much of that was simply because they went from Roethlisberger to Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges? I’m willing to bet it’s quite a bit. But it’s also injuries to JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner. It’s also minor changes here and there, such as Mike Munchak’s departure.

And it’s also Fichtner, both in general and in this specific scenario. He was handed an awful hand, but it’s reasonable to postulate that he could have gotten better results from it. Even when he got into something that worked, such as using pre-snap movement to draw out coverages, he quickly went away from it. So that still leaves us wondering, what is the ideal scenario for the offense in 2020, with the report that the Steelers intend not changes at the offensive coordinator position?

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