When the Steelers had trouble scoring in the red zone in the past, the reason was obvious: They just didn't have a lot of offensive talent.
Back in those days, when they got down to the area of the field
where defenses tightened up, the Steelers often had to settle for
field goals. But figuring out why this current offense can't get in
the end zone is a different problem.
The Steelers have moved the ball inside the opponent's 20 yard
line 15 times, the most of any team in the NFL. Yet they have
come away with a touchdown on those occasions just five times.
Why? The Steelers seem to take a decidedly different approach
to things inside the 20, and especially inside the 10.
Once they get inside the 10, more often than not, they go to a
run-oriented power offense, bringing in two tight ends and
fullback Dan Kreider, and taking either Plaxico Burress or Hines Ward - or both - off the field.
The only time they go with the three and four wide receiver sets
they used to move the ball up and down the field is when it's
second or third and long.
Burress and Ward are the top two weapons in this offense.
Taking them off the field inside the 10 would be akin to the
Steelers of a few years ago taking Jerome Bettis off the field
inside the 10. You'd just never do it.
Coordinator Mike Mularkey has a brilliant offensive mind. He has
been remarkable, keeping opponents off balance with trick plays
and different formations.
Maybe it's time to try something completely different. Scrap the
power formations. Since the offensive talent on this team lies
with its receivers, get them on the field and leave them there.
Run the spread offense that opponents used with great success
against the Steelers last season on a full-time basis. Not only
would it keep Burress and Ward on the field, but Zereoue has
proven in the past that he's a much better runner against nickel
and dime defenses when there are four receivers spreading the
The Steelers simply don't have the offensive line or running
backs to play a power game any longer. Spreading the field
would accentuate the things they do well.
Spread it out
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