The Pittsburgh Steelers, overall, have been one of the better offenses in the NFL in terms of executing in the red zone, coming away with a touchdown on a good percentage of their trips inside of the 20-yard line. That was at least until the Baltimore Ravens game last week, in which they stalled on their first three trips into that part of the field, though they did finally get into the end zone in the second half.
Of course, it wasn’t necessarily the play-calling that was at fault in the short area of the field. Execution by the team’s playmakers was a major issue, as they had a handful of passes thrown into the end zone or inside the five-yard line that did not result in catches that could have been. James Washington, Chase Claypool, and Diontae Johnson all had passes thrown to them that could have been touchdowns within this area.
“I’m not going to jump off the bridge yet because I know we’ve been a pretty solid red zone team”, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner told reporters last week about the red zone performance against Baltimore, via transcript.
“Whatever reason, whether it’s a drop, whether it’s miscommunication in the route, we have to do a good job challenging these guys in practice”, he added. “The limited amount of time we get to practice to be on details, to get their individual improvement work in in the individual periods, if they stay a little bit later to catch jugs balls, if they stay a little bit later to line up in all their positions they’re going to be in and call plays, we have to keep finding that mind because these games come quick”.
Except for the last game, of course, which was supposed to be on a short week but ended up being on a long one instead. And now because of that game being delayed, the Steelers have been operating for this game on a short week, meaning that they probably haven’t had as much time to work on these issues as they would have liked.
But really, the problem is simply catching the ball. Make two or three more catches in that game, plays that were there to be made, and we’re having a very different conversation about how they game went on and how good this offense is, and we’re talking about guys who have made plays for this team.
So, bottom line, Steelers fans have no need to fear because Fichtner isn’t jumping off a bridge any time soon. He will still be the team’s coordinator for the foreseeable future, or perhaps for at least as Ben Roethlisberger is still around. And they’ll still execute above the line inside the red zone when they have their quarterback, as they did in 2018 and are doing in 2020.