The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense needs to score more points. It’s that simple.
If only it were that easy.
With a change in coordinators, moving on from Matt Canada to a dual role of Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan, the latter handling play-calling duties, Mike Tomlin has one expectation for the offense the remaining seven games. Score points.
During his Tuesday press conference, that was his clear message.
“I just want to see points,” Tomlin said as streamed by a well-attended YouTube crowd. “I want to engineer victory more fluidly. And points do that.”
Scoring points had been an issue throughout Canada’s tenure, especially this season. Through 10 games, the Steelers are averaging 16.6 points, 28th in football, and have been aided by two defensive touchdowns this season along with a safety via a blocked punt against the Baltimore Ravens.
Putting that in perspective, the Steelers averaged 18.1 points per game during the 2019 season, one without QB Ben Roethlisberger for all but six quarters. They spent the rest of the season rotating between a young Mason Rudolph and UDFA Duck Hodges in addition to dealing with injuries to RB James Conner and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. That unit benefitted from a stellar defense that also created points on its own but the production with this current group should be much stronger given its talent and overall health.
In each year of Canada’s tenure, the Steelers averaged fewer points than they did before. In 2021, Roethlisberger’s final season, the team ranked 21st in scoring. In 2022, the Steelers fell to 26th. And through 10 games this season are 28th. Pittsburgh’s model of winning the low-scoring slugfest and leading game-winning drives has largely worked this season — it is now 6-1 in one-score games — but sustaining that throughout an entire year is difficult. Winning a playoff game facing high-powered offenses would be nearly impossible.
Pittsburgh’s first test will come against the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday. There will be a real chance to score points. The Bengals rank 21st in points allowed and have given up 64 points over their last two games, 30 to the Houston Texans and 34 to the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, those are much more talented and better-coached offenses. The issues that plague the Steelers can’t just be fixed by one subpar defense. They have to communicate better, execute better, and scheme better. They’ll have seven games to meet Tomlin’s mark.