The Pittsburgh Steelers head into Week 4 of the 2022 NFL season with a 1-2 record and have an extremely tough stretch ahead. There have definitely been more negatives than positives through the first three weeks and Mike Tomlin is potentially looking at his first ever losing season as a head coach if several things aren’t corrected. It starts with poor offensive play, but the team is in the bottom half of the league in several categories on defense as well.
There are many things that need to get better if they want to remain in the playoff race after the month of October. These are the most concerning team statistics and areas of play that need to be addressed, and fast.
If you can’t move the ball past the chains, you’re simply not going to score a lot of points. The Steelers are averaging just 14.7 points per game and rank 30th in the NFL in total first downs. The offense has managed to get beyond the yellow first down mark only 49 times thus far. Not only has this wildly affected the time of possession, but also has the defense on pace to play the most snaps in NFL history.
Offensive coordinator, Matt Canada said after Week 2 that the unit was doing a good job getting it to 3rd and manageable, but clearly something is going wrong in those situations. The group isn’t turning the ball over and currently ranks second in the league with just two giveaways, but it might be time to start being more aggressive in order to generate more big plays and be more successful moving the ball down the field.
The Steelers have 818 total yards of offense. That is ranked 31st in the NFL only behind the Chicago Bears. This can be correlated to the lack of first downs, poor running game and rare explosive plays downfield. The AFC is no joke when it comes to offensive firepower and Pittsburgh will have their hands full the next couple months facing off against top offenses from both conferences. There is no chance, especially if T.J. Watt remains on the sideline, that the offense will be able to keep up in its current state.
The rushing attack needs to be a lot more dynamic and Mitch Trubisky needs to be let loose to make plays over the middle of the field. Sure, the defense will keep the Steelers in some games, but without a more threatening offense, it’s going to be very tough to keep up going forward.
Part of this comes from the poor offensive play. The defense has been on the field for 231 plays so far in 2022. They are getting beaten up late in games and it’s hard to keep up. But, everyone knew this unit was going to have to carry this team. It’s hard to stay away from fatigue when the offense is leaving you on the field for 77 plays per game, but the defense needs to get off the field early in games on third downs.
They have allowed the third most first downs in the NFL and are 25th in third down defense as opponents are executing 46.9% of the time. The worst part is that they haven’t even played the good offenses yet. Jacoby Brissett had three QB sneaks in Week 3 that went for a total of 11 yards. If teams continue to convert on a consistent basis, it’s going to really hurt the defense towards the end of games. The Steelers ranked seventh a year ago in the category and only allowed first downs on 37.1% of third down plays.
Another year and another poor run defense from the Steelers. Pittsburgh has given up 428 yards on the ground and ranks 28th in the NFL. The loss of Watt has been glaring, but not many guys have stepped up in his absence. What happened to the next man up approach? If opposing offenses continue to wear down the defensive side of the ball, they are going to have their way consistently.
Tyson Alualu has not really been effective and without Watt, teams are focusing in on Cameron Heyward which has affected his productivity. They have allowed 142.6 rushing yards per game which is on par with last year’s last ranked run defense. The positive is most upcoming games are versus pass happy offenses, but that may be the kiss of death if the Steelers expect that and are beat by the run game.
What is the most concerning statistic for the Steelers thus far in your opinion?