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In the Film Room With JuJu Smith-Schuster: Breaking Down Steelers 4th Down Struggles

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The Steelers’ offense is not working for anyone. However, one of their key struggles on the year is their poor fourth-down efficacy. In fact, they are hardly even throwing past the sticks on fourth downs this year, which makes it all the more infuriating. Whether it’s play calls or Ben Roethlisberger missing the read, it is a situation that needs to get fixed if the Steelers offense is looking to have any chance of success as the year draws along.

Here are the two attempts against the Packers, both of which were thrown short of the sticks:

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JuJu Smith-Schuster’s involvement in a poor man’s Kevin Dyson attempt is an admirable one. However, both of these targets, one to Smith-Schuster and one to Najee Harris are the exact reason the Steelers are failing to convert anything on these fourth down plays. Both of these are wonky plays. The Steelers got zone coverage on both when they clearly expected man coverage, as both reads are designed to be man coverage beaters. Smith-Schuster broke down what he believes is going wrong.

“That route, it’s basically a shallow route,” Smith-Schuster said. “So, we’re running a pick play to one another. For the defense they called … that route is a man-beating route. However, they called a zone defense. You know, I tried to reach for a first down and get something out of it. I wanted to do everything possible to give our team a chance.”

This raises some questions about who these plays are on. Roethlisberger is a long-tenured veteran, so he should have the freedom to change the play as he sees fit. On Smith-Schuster’s play the cornerbacks are facing the sideline and in outside leverage, clearly signaling zone coverage. Whether it is on Canada, Roethlisberger, or both, these fourth-down struggles cannot continue to occur.

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