So far, we have not seen very good grades out of the Steelers’ offense. The quarterbacks got average marks, while the running backs came in below average.
Wide receiver is the trickiest position to evaluate of the skill positions. There are so many factors that go into a solid passing game that it is hard to quantify them all.
Let’s see how we can break this down.
A check on footballoutsiders.com (which is a website that tries to do for football what Sabermetrics did for baseball), we can see that Antonio Brown led the Steelers in what Football Outsiders calls Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR). That being said, he was only 45th in the league in that stat. He had 787 yards on 66 receptions, and five touchdowns. That’s an increase of three scores over 2011, but at a loss of over 300 yards of production. Not exactly the kind of numbers the Steelers might have been looking for when they signed Brown to a five-year, $42.5 million deal in July of last year.
Brown was T39 in the league for pass targets with 106. Mike Wallace actually led the Steelers in targets with 119. One would expect the team’s number one receiver to get a majority of the targets, but this can be easily explained when you figure the number one receiver will probably draw a lot of double teams.
Speaking of Wallce, considering he held out in the off season, looking for a new deal, he did himself no favors in 2012. While he led the team in targets, he was two behind Brown in receptions (66 for Brown, 64 for Wallace). His production dropped almost across the board over the last two seasons, in fact.
From a career high of 1257 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010, Wallace had 1193 and eight scores in 2011. Those numbers fell again in 2012 as he had only 836 and eight touchdowns.
And then there is the fumble factor for both of these players. Wallace only had two fumbles, but the one he lost was costly. In the first game against the ravens, his fumble led to a ravens field goal. Baltimore would win the game by that three point margin.
Brown lost two fumbles, both of them in losses to the Oakland and Dallas.
Again, I’ll never say one play costs a team a game, but you can’t discount turnovers in close games. The Steelers lost those three games by three points each.
On the other hand, we have Heath Miller, who had a Pro Bowl year in 2012. He amassed 816 yards and eight scores; he moved to third place on the all time Steelers receptions list during the year, and was voted the team MVP for the 2012 season.
Steelers receivers collected only two games with more than 100 receiving yards. In fact, in one game, a running back had the highest number of receiving yards. That shouldn’t happen. The Steelers’ passing offense was middling at best. I gave the receivers a D+, and it’s only that high because of the play of Heath Miller.