The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is off to a rough start in 2021. They are currently dead last in the league in total rushing yards. This team is only slightly better in total offense at 25th overall in the NFL. So who is to blame for the team’s slow start on that side of the ball? We decided to do a Steelers blame pie chart, and assign percentages of blame to answer that question:
Receivers and Backs: 5%
Tough to judge how well the skill position players are doing with the deeper issues we will discuss later int his post. Najee Harris has shown glimpses of the talent that made him a first round pick, but the overall run game has been atrocious. He has already seen more defenders behind the line of scrimmage than his entire final season at Alabama.
It may be time to consider this wide receiver group a bit overrated. There is certainly talent here, but none of them has managed to stand out as a game breaker. This team needs an Antonio Brown type play maker to take some pressure off Ben Roethlisberger. The hope is Diontae Johnson coul be that guy. Unfortunately he and Ben never seem to stay on the same page for an entire game.
Front Office: 15%
For all the amazing things Kevin Colbert did this off-season, he did leave this team with one glaring weakness. We have mentioned several times that this team gambled by not prioritizing the offensive line this off-season. Colbert put together a rag-tag group of draft picks and cast offs to fill out this line. That might work for one or two positions, but when the entire line is built that way the margin for error is slim. This unit may well improve as the season goes along, but at this moment it has been extremely suspect.
You might think it’s a little early to start wondering about Matt Canada’s new offense, but it may not be. This looks eerily similar to the offense we saw struggle so much late last season. There is a very real possibility that Canada had more influence on the 2020 offense than anyone realized. All the talk of pre-snap motion, and play action have yet to have any real improvement for this offense. It is still very early to make concrete judgments, but the early results are not encouraging.
Ben Roethlisberger: 20%
Anyone who is familiar with this site knows we are not huge fans of Ben Roethlisberger at this point in his career. Is Ben Roethlisberger the weak link on the Steelers? This is no longer a Super Bowl caliber of quarterback taking snaps for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His shortcomings now far out way any of the positives he brings to this football team. Having said that, this offensive line is doing him no favors whatsoever. Asking a 38 year old immobile quarterback to overcome the challenges of a bad offensive line simply isn’t fair.
The Offensive line: 40%
It is no secret that this offensive line is clearly the biggest issue for the offense. This can not be unexpected considering all the change that has occurred with this unit. While rookies Dan Moore Jr and Kendrick Green have shown glimpses, this will continue to be a rocky season due to their inexperience. The issues don’t end with the rookies however. Tackle Chuks Okorafor is a clear liability in the run game. He has not improved much at all in his time in Pittsburgh.
There is a very real possibility that once Zach Banner is back, it will be to replace Okorafor and not Dan Moore along this line. Banner is still trying to fully recuperate from the knee injury he suffered last season. He can be a huge upgrade for this line if he is healthy, particularly in the run game. Fixing this troubled run game would go a long way in curing the offense’s woes going forward.