The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t exactly had the most dynamic offense in the NFL so far through the first six weeks of the season—though, in spite of that, they still rank in the top five in points per game. The passing game has only produced 1106 net yards, an average of 221 yards per game. Ben Roethlisberger ranks 22nd in passing yards per game.
But they also rank 25th in pass attempts per game. Part of that is because they have spent most of the season in tie games or with the lead. Sometimes they have had substantial leads, in fact, like on Sunday, during which Roethlisberger attempted just 22 passes.
That led to some shallow statistics even in a game in which Diontae Johnson did not play. JuJu Smith-Schuster finished with just two catches for six yards. Only James Washington and Chase Claypool had double-digit receiving yards.
But nobody is concerned about that, or the state of the passing game—or the state of morale within the receiving corps. Because the latest Tomlinism is being bought into. The strength of the pack is the pack. He has filled the room with the idea that any game could be any one of their big games. That’s something Washington talked about yesterday.
“I just feel like we have so many weapons”, he said via a video of the interview provided by the team’s media department. “You just never know who’s gonna have a day. With as many mouths to feed on the offense as we have, you can’t just key one guy or two guys, because I feel like everyone’s capable of having a big game”.
Much has been made of the idea of the importance of keeping people happy by making sure that they get their targets and their numbers. This discussion has often focused on Smith-Schuster, who is averaging under 40 yards per game so far this year.
“To be honest, I don’t really see any individuals on this team”, Washington offered. “I feel like we’re all working toward one goal, and I just feel like, no matter who gets in the end zone, we’re all gonna be happy for each other at the end of the day, as long as we leave with the W”.
They are 5-0, even if they rank just 21st in yards per game, and even worse, 25th, in yards per play—though that is partly because they also rank fifth in rushing attempts per game. When you run the ball more, you’re obviously going to average fewer yards per play.
And you’re going to be putting the ball in their receivers’ hands less frequently. But as long as they’re all winning, and they’re all reminded that any day could be their day, and that anybody’s individual success is their collective success, this group will remain content.