The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended on a disappointing note after getting eliminated from the playoffs by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional round.
Things got worse for Steelers fans on Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, after finishing 7-9 for the past two years.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, the Steelers odds for next season look very good as they are one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
However, if the Steelers don’t want to suffer another early playoff exit next season, there are a few things the team needs to address, one of which is their red zone efficiency.
Pittsburgh’s offense was one of the best in the NFL last season because they have a lot of talented players on that side of the ball. Despite having Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers had trouble finding the end zone whenever they got inside the 20 yard line.
Last season, the Steelers were in the bottom half of the NFL when it came to points scored inside the red zone, and ended the season ranked 22nd in the league in red zone efficiency.
In case you were wondering, the Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles were the best teams inside the red zone, so it isn’t surprising that one of the teams eliminated Pittsburgh from the playoffs, while the other two played in the Super Bowl.
Steelers’ president Art Rooney II noted the team’s poor play in the red zone, and called it an issue they have to resolve next season. Rooney said he expects the team to get better in the red zone this year now that they have a new offensive coordinator, who is expected to give Roethlisberger a better chance to make plays for the team.
When Todd Haley was still Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator, one of the biggest knocks against him was his questionable calls in certain situations. An example of that was during their game against the Jaguars when the Steelers were facing a 4th and inches. Haley elected to pass the ball instead of calling an inside run or letting Roethlisberger run a quarterback sneak.
During Haley’s six years with the team, Pittsburgh never finished better than 10th in red zone efficiency. Last season, the team’s efficiency dropped from 59 percent to 50 percent, which was a significant drop off because the Steelers averaged 3.9 red zone attempts per game.
With the team not showing any signs of improving in the red zone, it makes sense that the Rooney family decided to move on from Haley. Haley also didn’t help himself by being a distraction off the field and for not trying to improve his relationship with Roethlisberger, who reportedly asked head coach Mike Tomlin to make then quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner a buffer between the two men.
With Randy Fichtner, who has worked with Roethlisberger for over eight years, the Steelers will be more conventional in the red zone this year and Roethlisberger will be allowed to change the play call if he doesn’t like what he sees from the defense.
Even though the offense needs a little tweaking, the Steelers still have a lot of work to do on defense this offseason.
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