Steelers fans had a love hate relationship with former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for the 5 years that he roamed the Steelers’ sideline. Arians’ offense generated lots of passing yards for Big Ben, and lot’s of receiving yards for the wide receivers. But it also seemed to be incapable of scoring from the red zone, and Arians didn’t seem to understand that NFL teams ARE allowed to run to the left.
retired got fired. And now it’s Todd Haley’s turn to run the Steelers’ offense.
It’s still very early in Haley’s tenure, but after 2 games, let’s take a look at what we’ve seen so far.
The first thing that I notice about Haley’s offense is that it’s capable of eating up the clock. In the first game against the Denver Broncos, the Steelers held the ball for a full 10 minutes more than the Broncos did. In the 3rd quarter, Denver only had the ball for 36 seconds. That’s right, 36 seconds!
In the second game against the Jets, the Steelers held the ball for even longer. They had the ball for 13 minutes more than the Jets did. That’s almost a full quarter.
When an offense controls the clock like that, there’s a very high probability that they’re going to win the game. It also helps to keep the defense fresh, which is obviously a good thing.
Fewer long bombs
Another thing that was noticeable in the preseason, and has continued during the regular season is a noticeable lack of long throws down the field. Big Ben heaving long bombs waaaaaaaay downfield to Mike Wallace was a staple of Bruce Arians’ offense. But Todd Haley doesn’t seem to be as fond of the long pass. In fact, we’ve hardly seen any of them.
Instead, Haley seems to favor the short, quick pass. Short routes to the wide receivers and tight ends, or dump off passes to the running backs seem to be regular items on Haley’s menu.
With all of these short passes, Roethlisberger may end up throwing 25% more passes than he did in 2011, yet passing for 25% fewer yards.
Questionable running game
The primary thing that Haley was supposed to do was supercharge the running game. But that hasn’t happened…….yet. In fact, the running game seems to have taken a step backwards.
There could be many reasons for the futility in the running game. Injuries on the offensive line, and the lack of Rashard Mendenhall are the obvious suspects.
But regardless of the reason, the current productivity (or lack thereof) in the running game is completely unacceptable.
Against the Broncos, the Steelers gained only 75 yards rushing, and their leading rusher (Jonathan Dwyer) had only 43 yards. Against the Jets, things got even worse. The Steelers had only 66 yards on the ground, and their leading rusher (again Jonathan Dwyer) had only 28 yards.
It’s too early for fans to hit the panic button, but the deficiencies in the running game are definitely a cause for a concern. Todd Haley has to figure out a way for the offense to run the ball consistently.
Despite the problems the team is having running the ball, overall I’m please with Todd Haley’s new offense. I would like to see more 40 yard passes from Big Ben to Mike Wallace. After watching those two hook up repeatedly under Bruce Arians, Steelers fans know that Wallace is capable of outrunning just about any cornerback in the NFL. So why not let him do it?
But other than that one small complaint, I’m content with what I’ve seen so far from Todd Haley.
The Steelers face the Oakland Raiders this week, and hopefully they’ll be able to rush for more than 70 yards. But even if they don’t, I’m confident that Haley’s offense will be able to eat up the clock and generate a win.