The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has not been great this season, but they have gotten a lot better since the bye week. However, one area on offense where the team has struggled mightily over the season but is seeing some improvement in recent weeks is in the red zone.
Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett met with the media today, posted on Steelers.com, and asked about the Steelers’ struggles in the red zone and why the team seems to hit a standstill with they get inside in the 20-yard line.
“The field changes,” Pickett said. “When you’re at midfield or at -50 territory you have the whole field to your disposal. When you get down there, the field shrinks. You got to continue to be balanced and do some different things. That’s one thing we are going to continue to work on.”
The Steelers’ red zone offense had been mediocre this year, ranking 17th in the league, scoring a touchdown only 53.3% of the time. However, in the past three weeks, they have seen a huge improvement, scoring a touchdown 75% of the time they get inside the 20-yard line, which is tied for sixth-best in the NFL in this span.
However, despite this increase in red zone success in the past few weeks, on the season the Steelers and Pickett have had serious struggles trying to move the ball in that area. Since the bye week, Pickett has had a poor completion percentage of 47.6%. However, the good news is he isn’t turning the football over and has scored three touchdowns in that time frame: two through the air and one on the ground. In fact, he just tossed a red zone touchdown in the Christmas Eve game against the Las Vegas Raiders to win the game and keep the Steelers’ playoff hopes alive.
Things still aren’t perfect in the red zone for Pickett and the Steelers, but they are improving. A smaller sample size from Week 13 shows Pickett’s red zone completion percentage jump to 60% while still maintaining his two passing touchdowns in that time frame.
Red zone offense is hard for young quarterbacks to master. Jacksonville Jaguars’ second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is having a breakout year, still hasn’t completely mastered it. While he has thrown an impressive 20 touchdowns inside the 20 this year he also has an average 52.6% completion percentage inside the red zone.
It is going to take time with Pickett to become a red zone wizard, and that is okay. It is a process and the good thing is he has been showing signs of improvement all season, especially in the last few weeks.