With the 2022 NFL Draft now behind us, the ranking part of the offseason is starting to gain steam. This part of the offseason includes everything being ranked and sometimes as part of tiers. A few days ago, Jared Dubin of CBS Sports used a weighted grading system to size up the offensive infrastructure of all 32 teams way ahead of the 2022 regular season. The results yielded rankings and tiers and the Pittsburgh Steelers did not fare well when it comes to either.
According to Dubin’s weighted grading system process, the Steelers offense yielded a 2.93 score, which ranked them 27th overall in the NFL. In short, the Steelers are the top-ranked team of the sixth overall tier of which there are seven of them. The other teams in that tier with the Steelers? The Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers, all of which are in a similar spot as Pittsburgh is when it comes to the quarterback position.
Below is what Dubin wrote about those four teams in that fifth tier:
We expect each of these teams to have below-average (or worse) quarterback play, and they’re all saddled with some combination of below-average units along the offensive line or the pass-catching corps, or (in the case of the Panthers) a below-average play-caller. We also don’t really know who will be under center for any of these squads. The Panthers could stick with Sam Darnold, turn to Matt Corral, or trade for someone like Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo. The Seahawks could go with Drew Lock or Geno Smith, or make a trade. The Steelers seem likely to at least begin the season with Mitchell Trubisky at the helm, but could eventually turn to first-round pick Kenny Pickett. Marcus Mariota figures to get the first shot in Atlanta, but Desmond Ridder could work his way into the lineup. None of these teams necessarily has an elite unit at any spot, since we can no longer count on Christian McCaffrey to stay healthy and play damn near every snap.
As you would likely expect, the Steelers did not grade out well when it comes to the quarterback position, play-caller, and offensive line categories. At quarterback they received a below average grade of 2 and just an average grade of 3 in both the play-caller and offensive line categories. They received above average scores of 4 in each of the final two offensive categories, pass catchers and running backs.
Below is a note about the weighting of each of the categories:
Scores are weighted so that the quarterback was the most important component of the offense, followed by play-caller, offensive line, and pass-catchers, and then finally running backs, so that the weights reflected as closely as possible the reality of the way modern NFL offenses work.
So, does the Steelers’ weighted score this year compare to last year at this same time? Well, last year the Steelers offense was ranked 22nd overall. Their quarterback grade was a 3.5 last year and their pass catchers received an above average score of 4, just as they did this year. Their offensive line received a grade of 2 last year as well.
The three highest graded offenses last year by CBS were the Kanas City Chiefs (4.73), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4.67) and Green Bay Packers (4.50). Obviously, none of those three teams made it to the Super Bowl. The two teams that did ultimately play in last season’s Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams (4.20) and Cincinnati Bengals (3.07) were ranked 5th and 25th, respectively, overall.
The Steelers obviously focused on adding new components to their offense during the offseason. The offensive line was addressed heavily in free agency with additions of interior players James Daniels and Mason Cole. Two young wide receivers were added via the draft in the form of George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Last but not least, three new quarterbacks were added during the offseason in veteran Mitch Trubisky and rookies Kenny Pickett and Chris Oladokun. The obvious hope is that Pickett, the team’s first-round draft pick this year, will quickly become the team’s new future franchise quarterback.
With the Steelers having so much youth and newness on offense this offseason, and with the team no longer having quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leading the unit, it’s not too surprising to see them ranked at the top of the second lowest tier in these weighted offerings. Can they pull a 2021 Bengals this year? We’ll see.