Analysis Of Steelers’ Offense Shows Low Playaction Rate, High Percentage Of Stacked Box Runs

For those analytically inclined, here’s a good breakdown of some of the basics of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense. Using numbers provided by SIS, Alex Rollins tweeted out a graph of what the Steelers’ 2022 offense looked like. And the results, as you might expect, aren’t pretty.

Here’s the data he sent out earlier in the week.

The notable takeaways:

– 11 and 12 personnel made up 91% of the team’s total personnel packages
– Canada’s offense had just the 17th-ranked motion rate, 45%
– Pittsburgh’s playaction rate increased compared to past years but was still below average, 21st overall at 16%
– Their screen game rate was next-to-last, used only 5% of the time
– Ditto for their gap/power runs, 31st overall at just 20%
– Their stacked box run rate was the opposite of what you want, 5th-highest running into stacked boxes, 25th-lowest running against light boxes

Based on this data, it’s easy to light up another pitchfork at Matt Canada. Some of that would be justified. But a couple things to consider.

Eleven and 12 personnel are the two more common groupings in football. Most teams will run the majority of their offense out of those looks. The playaction rate does feel like an increase over previous seasons when Pittsburgh sat in the very basement of the league. Pittsburgh’s screen game hasn’t been good for the last 15 years, that’s not exclusive to Canada, and hopefully will improve with the additions of LT Broderick Jones and TE Darnell Washington. The gap rate is controlled more by OL Coach Pat Meyer than Canada. Finally, the stacked box rates are ugly but box counts matter more. If a team is +1 facing a stacked box, it’s still a good idea to run because there’s more blockers than defenders. As far as I can tell, that data isn’t available to us.

Of course, Canada’s offense still must look better in 2023 than it has the last two seasons. Even with a strong defense and ball control approach, averaging 18.4 points per game isn’t going to win in this modern era. Much of that can be attributed to the team’s poor red zone offense, ranked 23rd in each of the last two seasons. With a more experienced and established group, better offensive line, improved weapons, and a clear “guy” at quarterback, barring a long-term injury to Pickett, there’s no excuses for Canada. If he and this offense doesn’t perk up, his expiring contract likely won’t be renewed next season.

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