UNITY TWP., Pa — Over the weekend, the Steelers’ offense had one of their better stretches of training camp. It finally seemed like things were starting to click and really piece together. But there is one thing that is not changing about what is going on with the team, and that is the struggles in the red zone.
Overwhelmingly, the Steelers’ defense has dominated seven shots, with the offense winning only convincingly two of those sessions all of training camp. In the two-minute drill, Kenny Pickett and the offense couldn’t crack the code then, either. There are two sides to this, and one of them is that the Steelers red zone defense looks good. But the standard has been that Teryl Austin’s defense is solid in the red zone. The same can not be said for the Steelers’ offense.
The style of football the Steelers play on offense lends itself to elongated drives that sometimes lack explosive plays. We know they are looking to be more explosive this season, but the team has to crack into the endzone. When looking at their per-drive metrics at the end of last season, they ranked 10th or better in every substantial category. The offense was good, but why did the point totals fluctuate up and down so much then?
The answer to that is that the Steelers only scored touchdowns at a league-average rate last year. They led the NFL in time per drive and ranked 1st overall in field goal percentage. But they only ranked 17th in touchdown percentage. It all comes down to a lack of red zone success from the elongated drives. The other fact is that they simply did not score much outside the red zone, only doing so twice the entire regular season.
But if the team is going to be an efficient monster that wins on the ground, they better be able to turn 3 into 7. But so far in training camp, that does not appear to be the trend of the offense. That is why Mike Tomlin keeps emphasizing the red zone so much to the offense at this juncture.