The Steelers offense has endured growing pains all season and that continued Sunday against the Seahawks. Part of the inconsistencies has been due to the offense being forced into long third-down situations.
This is something coach Mike Tomlin has addressed the past few weeks. A theme all season has been trying to get the team in shorter yard-to-go situations. Beyond the obvious inefficiencies on early downs, the reasoning for that has also been due to penalties. Tomlin talked about those Tuesday in something the team needs to clean up on their bye week.
”Offensively, we’ve got to clean up penalties and specifically pre-snap penalties. That’s an area we have an opportunity to be perfect to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said in his weekly press conference. “We’ve been far from perfect in that regard.”
The Steelers are tied for 20th in the NFL in total penalties this season with 42, an average of seven per game. Tomlin specifically mentioned the amount of pre-snap penalties being a problem and the numbers certainly confirm that. Their 16 pre-snap penalties are tied for fourth in the NFL.
The Steelers inexperienced offensive line is a large contributor to this problem. The group has still played just six games together, so the chemistry is still a work in progress. More specifically, the offensive line has the second-most false starts in the NFL with 10.
“3rd and 4 goes to 3rd and 9 and that’s just not good football, particularly considering we’ve played four out of six games at home.”
Tomlin highlights a good point in the team playing 67% of its games at home so far this season. That makes the pre-snap penalties even more unacceptable. The number of penalties at home is a signal of the team just shooting themselves in the foot and not staying disciplined.
Week 7 will still be full of work for the Steelers despite it being a bye week. It’s a time to work on eliminating unnecessary penalties that significantly limit the offense’s upside.