After two weeks of inconsistent offense, the Steelers appear to be on the right track.
At least, that’s the coach’s statement Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Tomlin, on Tuesday, after his team’s victory against the Las Vegas Raiders with a score of 23-18.
A week after confirming that his offense has lost the magic it showed during the preseason, Tomlin is ready to retract his statement that went viral.
“I will be really transparent with you,” said Tomlin during his weekly press conference. “That’s not what I meant last week when I (made that statement). You repeated the question to me in many different ways, and I gave you the same answer. So sometimes I’ll give you a colorful answer, with one word like magic, so you can run with it and we can go about our day.
“Those who know me know that there is nothing mysterious about the show, depending on my mentality or our mentality. We work, we improve and then we go out to play. Sometimes, man, that cycle is not complete enough. We have to be in scenarios like this and cover a lot of questions. They come back and forth and that’s why I give them something.
“I don’t subscribe to (the idea of) magic, or untouchability and things like that.”
Very good. Magic is not real. But the offensive development of Steelers?
The Pittsburgh team had the best offensive demonstration of what was clearly a young season in their matchup against the Raiders: 333 yards, 17 first downs, 5.6 yards per game. the Steelers Not only did they score their first touchdown in the first quarter of 2023, but they also ended up falling in the first quarter.
Although Kenny Pickett had the lowest completion percentage of the season (57.1%), he threw two touchdowns in the same game for the first time in his career and had a season-high 235 yards. . In the field, the runners of Steelers They added 105 yards, bettering their combined record from the first two weeks.
“I think we’re improving across the board and that’s a reasonable expectation and mindset at this point in the year,” Tomlin said. “Our business is to win games, without a doubt. When you come to the stadium, you have to win, that’s the goal. But, when it comes to finding victories you have to build and it seems to be improving us.”
After two weeks of showing irregular offensive, the Steelers appears to be on the right track as they prepare to face a Houston Texans defense that has limited quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars to just 17 points, despite allowing 340.7 yards per game, 4.29 yards per carry and a 73% completion rate.
“I think we’re on the road to recovery,” Pickett said of his offense’s magic. “I don’t think there is a perfect match. “There are things we want to recover from and there are games that will always happen, but I think without a doubt we are getting closer to making the step we need to take to recover.” Flawless? Hardly not. However, in their performance on Sunday the Steelers They put together several elements of their offense that were missing in the first two weeks of the schedule and opened up their playbook more often, quickly laying the foundation for a road map to success the rest of the season.
“The more successful you are, the more you control game scenarios, you do things more timely, you have more possessions, you have more concepts,” Tomlin said in his appearance on Tuesday. “You see the movements of the protection bag, action game screens, fast play and all those things that help do a good job of off-balancing opposing defenses.
The key to the victory against the Raiders was the return of the running attack. Not only the Steelers They gained more than 100 yards on the ground for the first time this year: they also continued their commitment to the run game by adding 31 carries. In their game against the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers They have 21 stars and last week against the San Francisco 49ers they barely had 10, a result of resigning themselves to see their 20 point deficit early in the second quarter.
Thanks to his tenacity in using the running game against the Raiders, the Steelers was able to use (successfully) a greater amount of action game. Like the Raiders, the Texans allowed 4.3 yards per carry, while the Browns and 49ers limited opposing offenses to averages of 2.8 and 3.7 yards per carry, suggesting that the Steelers They will have an easier time repeating their recent successes in the running game in Week 4.
“When we run the ball, it opens up a lot of possibilities,” Najee Harris said. “That’s who we are. We have to run with the ball. “That’s the way we are.”
About 28% of Pickett’s passes on Sunday were accurate on plays action game, completed 6 of 8 attempts for 61 yards and a score in the third quarter by tight end Pat Freiermuth. A week earlier, in their game against the Browns, Pickett shot 15.6% after a run trick. During the loss to the 49ers, the percentage was lower (5.9%). On the season, Pickett is 12 of 16 in action game with 159 total yards, 9.9 yards per attempt, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
“You need your running game to complete your fakes and passes; Otherwise, it’s not effective,” Pickett said after the game. “So it’s very positive to have effective carries (3, 4, 5 yards), when we get them, to keep them honest and then we can add some fakes and passes to help them run as well. ”
An important factor in this improvement in the running game is the increase in the level shown by the offensive line Steelers. The Raiders, who have allowed an average of 347.7 yards per game, do not represent a defensive challenge similar to those faced against the 49ers and Browns; However, they have a lot of work to do in dealing with defensive end Maxx Crosby. Instead of turning against Crosby, as in the case of Nick Bosa and Myles Garrett, the offensive line tried to show a more holistic philosophy in its attempts to neutralize the defense.
“I think the most important thing is that we try, I’m not going to say ‘carelessly,’ but we have to make our offense more, instead of shutting it down in half to focus on one person ,” an offensive tackle by Dan. Moore Jr. said. We still show respect (for Crosby), but we also open up our offense. It affects us a little, but we will improve it. ”
Although Crosby had six pressures and one sack, the line Steelers He did better when it came to blocking in the running game. That was the product of a meeting with Harris before the game to put the rules together. This is a recipe that seems offensive Steelers on the right track… and, perhaps, with a bit of magic involved.
“We talked about the runs that we thought were the best and they liked the most, and they asked what I liked the most,” Harris said after Sunday’s win. “… killing. We’re going to improve. It’s only the third game. We still have 14. Now we just have to go up. That’s our trajectory.”