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2012 Grades, Position by Position, Offense

In deference to the reader who commented on one of my articles, pointing out that I had not considered the offensive scheme, injuries, and play-calling while writing about the play of the wide receivers and tight ends, here you go. This article is going to grade the entire offense as a unit.

First, an opinion. I thought the offense was a little bland in 2012. I thought the Steelers didn’t take as many shots down the field as they should have. And I don’t know about you, but it looks to me like other teams have figured out that the Steelers like to run wide receiver screen passes. It might be time to tear that page out of the playbook.

I understand new OC Todd Haley was installing a new system which seemed to include West Coast offense elements. Hell, this offensive system put Heath Miller in the Pro Bowl. He is the only Steelers tight end to appear in the Pro Bowl in the 2000s.

However, this is also the same system which produced only 25.8 rushing attempts per game, good for 20th in the NFL. It’s the offense that created the 7th worse rushing attack in the league in yards per game. In fact, the 2012 offense produced 25 fewer rushing yards per game than the 2011 offense. And, the Steelers were tied for 4th worse in yards per rushing attempt.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Todd Haley’s offense produced only middling results in the passing game. The Steelers passing offense was 15th in passing yards per game; and 18th in yards per completion.

If we look at the two stats that really matter, points per game and giveaways, we can see that this offense struggled all year.

The Steelers were 22nd in the league with 21.0 points per game. Believe it or not, that’s half a point better than 2011. I didn’t realize it until I began researching this article, but the Steelers’ offense scored in the 30′s once the entire season (at Oakland, a game they lost). At the same time, they managed to score below 20 points six times during the year. Would you like to guess how many of those games they won? I’ll give you a hint: In games in which they scored under 20 points, they only beat teams that finished last in their respective divisions.

Pittsburgh was 7th worst in the NFL in giveaways, giving the ball to their opponents nearly two times per game. To be fair, five of their 16 fumbles on the year occurred in that one miserable game against Cleveland, but still, the numbers are clear, and they are jarring.

So, why did we see such miserable performance out of this offense? Well, that’s where the waters start getting cloudy.

As with everything in football, you can always look at the play of the line as an indicator of how things are going. Case in point: The ravens managed to win the Super Bowl once they put Bryant McKinney in at left tackle, where he is excellent; put Michael Oher back in his much more natural position at right tackle, and moved Kelechi Osemele to his more comfortable position at guard.

The Steelers tried to address the glaring needs along the offensive line in the draft, but saw their top two picks miss time with injuries. Add to that the injuries to some of the veterans, you have the makings for a very bad offensive year. Juggling players along the line is no way to build a solid offensive foundation.

If the line is not playing well, the rest of the offense will suffer, as noted in the stats above.

On top of that is the rumored rift between QB Ben Roethlisberger and OC Todd Haley. It’s no secret that Big Ben was unhappy with the firing of Bruce Ariens, and that he and Coach Haley don’t really get along. But it was only their first year together. Maybe things will be better in 2013.

And finally, everyone seemed to just under-perform in 2012. The quarterbacks played okay, but there was nothing truly outstanding, especially in the second half of the year (with the exception of the remarkable performance turned in by Charlie Batch against the ravens in the teams’ second meeting).

The running backs had a tough time getting to what holes there were. And when they did, they were very likely to fumble the ball.

The receivers seemed to have a tough time getting separation. And when they did, there were several costly mistakes in the forms of dropped passes and fumbles.

Mistakes, poor execution, inconsistency, and injuries. Add all that up, and you have a very poor offense that couldn’t beat the likes of Oakland, San Diego, and Tennessee; had to go to overtime to beat Kansas City; and failed to score more than 10 points in a loss to the Bengals in Pittsburgh. I hate to say it, fellow Citizens of The Nation, but I have to give the 2012 offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers a D.

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1 comment

  1. charles Martin

    I agree with this analysis. There are some things that are simply intangible, injuries and turnovers are two. Very few short fields. The offense usually gets better over the course of the season, injuries take a HUGE bite out of that. Stats that result make it easy to generally blame the OC. A large part of offensive consistency was the not necessarily one injury but a consistency of injury, but prior to Big Ben’s injury our offense was clicking: pass %, third down efficiency, and very few sacks. As the O was supposed to be gelling we were throwing rookies into positions they had never seen before. The bold statements at the end make it easy to blame Tomlin and sometimes I have a hard time NOT doing that. Mistakes, poor execution and inconsistency do not speak well of the coach. I do believe that Tomlin is a players coach and therefore the team needs player leaders like Hines. As Antonio Brown showed us two years ago a player becomes a leader by how they play the game, We need for Tomlin to have a better year and we need some (a) player to step up their intensity of play.

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