To all of you who are glad that Bruce Arians is likely staying with the Steelers, I would humbly like to submit the following question: Why can’t this offense score points?
The Steelers are 19th in the league in total touchdowns with 36. Breaking that number down further we are 15th in the league with 13 rushing TDs and 13th with 21 receiving scores (then one each for special teams and defense – that defensive stat has the Steelers tied for second the last … but that’s another issue).
First off, I need to begin by saying that I am not a BA basher. I don’t blame him for all the woes of this team, nor do I put every loss at his feet. There are plenty of reasons why the Steelers, as a team, underperformed this season, from injuries, to clock management issues, and, at times, just plain poor execution on both sides of the ball. But here’s what I want to discuss: the offense and scoring in particular.
Why do we consistently fail to put up points when our team has an elite QB, one of if not the best group of WRs in the league, an elite RB (and an excellent backup), and an average (when healthy) offensive line? Sanchez, Romo, Ryan, Fitzpatrick and Newton all have more passing touchdowns that Big Ben, but few (Editor’s note: no one) would argue are better quarterbacks. This simply should not happen; none of these QBs have a better set of options for the pass.
Now many would say that our problem is poor offensive line play. But a quick look at Football Outsiders tells a slightly different story when it comes to pass protection. According to their stats, Pittsburgh’s O-line ranked 20th in pass pro. But Carolina (21st), Green Bay (23rd), and Arizona (28th) scored at least as many passing touchdowns as the Steelers (the Packers scored 51!) with worse performances from their offensive lines.
Another telling stat: Pittsburgh is 10th in the league in total passing yards this season, yet only 21st in scoring. The full list of teams with a better total scoring rank is a depressing read. These rankings tell a story every Steelers fan knows all too well, this team can move the ball between the 20s on almost any opponent but fails to finish drives. What’s more, this team hasn’t last broken the top ten in scoring since 2007 (9th), Arians’ first year as the offensive coordinator.
My argument is that given this team, with a franchise quarterback, outstanding receiving options including a solid tight end, and a very respectable set of running backs has continued to underwhelm. I have no suggestions for Arians’ replacement, nor am I saying fire him immediately. I just think we should look around and see what else is available.
Jeremy Clark is an attorney and a Steelers fan. He also runs the Lounge Legal Department.