After several weeks of heavy amounts of throwing, the Pittsburgh Steelers have gone from being one of the most balanced offenses in football to the most imbalanced. They have the most disproportionate run-pass balance in the NFL in the past five weeks, having attempted 215 passes to just 106 rushes in that span, which translates to a ratio of 2.04:1. On the season, the Chicago Bears are first at 1.85:1. There are only eight total teams above 1.5:1.
Granted, on a season-long measurement, the Steelers still rank 13th in pass-run ratio at 1.45:1, but that number itself just serves to illustrate how much dramatically more they are throwing the ball versus running it in comparison to the first half of the season.
Are the Steelers concerned about the frequency with which they are putting the ball in the air, especially as it relates to the arm health of their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, in his first season back from major elbow surgery?
“No, I don’t think it really matters how many times we throw or run the ball as long as we win the football game”, he said for himself, speaking to reporters yesterday. “We can beat the dead horse on the RPOs and the short passes the same as runs. We ‘need’ to run the ball X amount of times. No, we don’t. We need to win a football game. That’s what we’ve been doing”.
“Maybe we’ll throw it 70 times this week. Who knows? As for a short week, Coach [Mike Tomlin] has a plan that we will be ready for in terms of kind of a walk-through today and tomorrow”, he continued. “I probably won’t throw many footballs this week. I think it’s kind of one of those weeks where you don’t need to throw a lot because you just played, you’re coming off of a game and you have another physical game this week”.
Roethlisberger threw 46 times in each of the past two weeks, tied for the second-most attempts he has had in a game so far this season, which came at the start of this streak against Tennessee when he threw 49 times.
Ironically, outside of the blowout against the Cleveland Browns, his 32 pass attempts against the Ravens earlier this season is tied for the fewest passes that he has thrown in a game, but they also only rushed 16 times in a game in which Baltimore controlled the time of possession.
It also helps that several of their most recent games came against opponents fielding a banged-up secondary, so it would make sense that they would want to exploit that. The Ravens’ secondary, though appears to be about as healthy as it will get for now. Jimmy Smith hasn’t been practicing, but he barely ever practices this year and yet always plays.