Pittsburgh Steelers could use red-zone makeover in '12
By Dan Hanzus
Published: July 8, 2012
The Pittsburgh Steelers have great tools on offense. It's the execution that wasn't always stellar in 2011.
In an NFL season defined by explosive offensive production, the Steelers were merely adequate, averaging 20.3 points per game (21st in the league) and scoring more than 30 points on just three occasions.
This can be explained, at least partly, by struggles in the red zone. As Jamison Hensley at ESPN's AFC North blog points out, Pittsburgh ranked 18th in red-zone efficiency last season. The Steelers recorded 27 touchdowns on 53 red-zone possessions, a 50.9 percent success rate. With talented players like Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall, that wasn't nearly good enough.
Improved play from Roethlisberger inside the 20 would help. Last season, the quarterback's completion percentage dropped nearly 15 percentage points once he got inside the 20 (64.7 to 50). Roethlisberger was sacked 22 times in the red zone, second-most in the NFL. The Steelers are counting on a revamped offensive line to help matters in this department.
It's worth noting some oddities in the above statistics as well. The Jets -- 8-8 last season and nobody's example of an offense to envy -- led the league in red-zone efficiency at 65.5 percent. And the man who took the most red-zone sacks in 2011? Aaron Rodgers, who might have produced the greatest season ever for a quarterback.
What does it mean? We're not entirely sure, but perhaps new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley has a theory of his own. We know he won't be afraid to share it.