New week, same story for the Pittsburgh Steelers when it comes to pushing the football down the field.
At least that’s head coach Mike Tomlin’s talking point.
In Sunday’s 35-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, the Steelers and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett attempted just three passes of 20+ yards down the field, according to Next Gen Stats at NFL.com. Three attempts out of 38 total in the blowout loss.
From 10-19 yards, Pickett attempted just nine total passes in that window, meaning he attempted just 12 total pass past 10 yards in the loss to the Eagles. That’s not going to cut it and again shows the disconnect with the vision of second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s offense and the actual play and execution on the field.
After the loss to the Eagles, Tomlin again cited what the defense was dictating, as far as rush and coverage, as reasons for why the Steelers didn’t really push the football down the field to guys like George Pickens, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Prior to switching to Pickett at halftime of the loss against the New York Jets, veteran Mitch Trubisky was one of the league leaders in 20+ yard pass attempts.
For whatever reason, that’s changed since Pickett stepped into the fold.
“Their rush is a component of it, particularly when you get somewhat one dimensional and you get down by a number of scores,” Tomlin stated to reporters following the loss, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page. “The secondary’s playing soft. The the four man rush has got their ears pinned back when you’re down by multiple scores. And the later you get in the game, the less likelihood that you’re gonna get those type of plays that you suggest. And that’s just how ball goes.
“And that’s why the games need to be close to keep everything at your disposal. When they’re not, when they’re multiple possession games and time is winding down, it gets extremely difficult to get the ball over the top, coupled with protecting your quarterback.”
In theory, Tomlin’s point makes a ton of sense. The Eagles were up by multiple scores throughout the game, and the Philadelphia pass rush was wrecking the Steelers’ offensive line throughout, recording 23 total pressures on the day.
But allowing the defense to dictate how things go offensively is a recipe for disaster, and it’s occurred time and time again for the Steelers this season. It’s the same excuse seemingly every week, with the coverage dictating shots, the situations in the game, and more.
Granted, the Steelers did attempt to take some shots, especially deep to Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth. The throw to Freiermuth was picked off though, while Johnson’s did draw a pass interference penalty. Still, it’s not enough in the grand scheme of things, especially from an offense that lacks chunk plays.