View Full Version : Goals to go

07-31-2011, 02:23 AM
Starkey: Steelers' magic number: 26.7
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Goals to go

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 49288.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_749288.html)

Sure, one could accuse Steelers receiver Mike Wallace of being overly optimistic, or even downright delusional. But I like the way he thinks.

Wallace has pegged his season's goal at 2,000 yards receiving, which merely would smash Jerry Rice's NFL record by 152 yards. He confirms that teammate Emmanuel Sanders is shooting for 1,000, which seemingly wouldn't leave much for tight end Heath Miller.


"He gets a thousand, too," Wallace said. "And (running back Rashard) Mendenhall can rush for about 1,600. We have a really explosive offense if he does that."

Forget the details, and focus on the key word: 'explosive.' This offense has a chance to be just that.

In fact, it has a chance to be the most prolific Steelers offense ever assembled.

Don't get me wrong. This group obviously cannot match the 1970's teams in talent. But it could very well top those and all others in franchise history in the most important offensive category of all: points per game.

The magic number is 26.7. That would break the club record set in 1975. It is a testament to the '70's teams that two remain atop the all-time team chart in scoring, even though their heyday came before many of the rules changes designed to enhance offense.

The '75 Steelers bulled their way to 26.6 points per game. The '79 team was more diversified in averaging 26.0. Since then, the franchise's two highest-scoring teams were Bill Cowher's Super Bowl squad of 1995 (25.4) and Mike Tomlin's first team, in 2007 (24.6).

What's so special about this year's unit?

Well, you have an elite quarterback, a potentially elite running back and receiver (just ask Wallace), a top-five tight end and an all-world center. Sprinkle in continuity, balance, superior coaching and what appears to be a favorable schedule, and you have the makings of a record year -- assuming good health, of course.

Last year's Steelers averaged 24.1 points after Ben Roethlisberger returned from his suspension and upped the figure to 24.7 in the playoffs (after one subtracts the defense's touchdown against the Jets).

When this team finally straps on pads today at St. Vincent, it will be refining established systems on both sides of the ball, not starting from scratch like so many other teams on the heels of the lockout. That is an enormous advantage.

The Steelers can win by ground or air - Pony Express or Federal Express - and use controlled or deep passing attacks. And their schedule includes only two teams (Baltimore, New England) that finished in the top 10 in scoring defense last season.

A closer look at a unit still evolving under fifth-year coordinator Bruce Arians:

-- Quarterback: Roethlisberger, 29, is in his prime and perhaps already the greatest quarterback in team history (just don't tell James Harrison, or Terry Bradshaw). His mental acumen and study habits appear to have caught up to his prodigious physical skills. That makes for a complete player, poised for a career season.

-- Running back: The Steelers believe Mendenhall still is scratching the surface. He just turned 24. If he approaches every game the way he did the Jets playoff game, he will be a star. Isaac Redman is a nice complement who merits more carries. Elusive rookie Baron Batch is an intriguing possibility on third downs. Let's see if he can block.

-- Tight end: Miller needs to be around his 76 catches of 2009, not his 42 of last season.

-- Wide receivers: There is concern here. You have speed guys (Wallace, Antonio Brown) and possession types (Hines Ward, Emmanuel Sanders), but size is an issue (Plaxico, anyone?), unless you believe Limas Sweed when he says, "I am that guy." Will this be the year Ward's body finally breaks down? And will Wallace use his shoddy postseason as motivation to take the next step toward greatness?

-- Offensive Line. Maurkice Pouncey has menacing road-graders on his far right (Willie Colon) and immediate left (Chris Kemoeatu). If the other two starters are Ramon Foster at right guard and Jonathan Scott at left tackle, so be it. They found a way to beat the Ravens and Jets with those two -- though I'm not convinced Scott will be the opening-day starter.

Don't get too worked up about the pedigree of offensive linemen. It's about development, not pedigree. All you need to know is that on the past five Super Bowl-winning lines, undrafted starters outnumbered first-round picks, 5-2, and players drafted in the fourth round or lower outnumbered higher picks, 12-8. It's about finding players to fit your system and coaching 'em up, and nobody did that better than Sean Kugler last season.

The bottom line here is that the Steelers are poised to post some serious numbers. Most notably this one: 26.7.

Read more: Starkey: Steelers' magic number: 26.7 - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1Tf4IO5bE (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_749288.html#ixzz1Tf4IO5bE)

07-31-2011, 07:49 AM
Wallace would have to average 15.7 yards per catch and make 128 (8 per game) catches to get to 2,000 yards in 16 games. Lofty goals to be sure, I would be happy and I believe the Steelers will be happy if simply continues to improve as a player and put up numbers similar to last year or better.

For Wallace to get 2,000, Sanders to get 1,000 and Miller, Ward, Mendenhall, Moore and Brown get 1,000 combined then Ben would have to pass 4,000 which he's only done that once and the team didn't do very well that year. When the numbers become important it seems the wins become less frequent.