If there’s one stat that shows how much of a step back the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense took, it’s red zone offense. Here’s the numbers.
2018: #1 red zone offense
2019: #32 red zone offense
And yes, the obvious. No Ben Roethlisberger. That is the driving reason for the drop but it isn’t the only one. That can’t explain a dropoff that significant, especially when in 2018, no one threw more red zone INTs than #7.
With Roethlisberger returning, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have made it their mission to ensure the red zone offense is ready to bounce back. Eric Ebron wasn’t my favorite signing, nor was Chase Claypool my favorite pick, but there’s no denying where they win. Inside the 20.
Over the past two seasons, Ebron has 12 receiving scores in the red zone. Claypool? 11. Combine them and you get a whopping 23, an absurd number for two players. Here’s a look at every single one of them.
Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was quick to point out the impact Claypool can make near the goal line, too.
Fichtner on Claypool: "gives you a potential red zone threat. he's an outside position player first that shows an ability to play in the slot as well."
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) April 25, 2020
Claypool is raw and in an offseason where there will be limited activity – no minicamp or OTAs and who knows what will happen for training camp – he’s behind the eight ball. Any receiver would be, if we’re being honest. But Claypool can be a package player when the ketchup bottles start pouring, his best traits are going to win. Size to win across the middle, boxing out corners on slants and diving forward at the end of plays. Vertical, timing, jump ball ability on fades to the corner of the end zone.
The volume of receptions and yards in 2020 figures to be low but the touchdowns – and big moments – could be sky high. Not a chance does Pittsburgh come anywhere close to sniffing the red zone basement like they did in 2019.