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Thursday, October 25, 2012
Should Steelers stay 'dink and dunk?'

By Jamison Hensley

Roethlisberger
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last week that Todd Haley's offense isn't a big-play one, describing it as a "dink-and-dunk offense."

That's certainly valid when you look at the numbers. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Roethlisberger’s average pass has traveled 7.5 yards downfield this season, tied for the 25th-highest rate in the NFL. Last season, Roethlisberger’s average pass traveled 9.1 yards downfield, tied for the seventh-highest rate.

Should the Steelers passing offense stay in this mode? Roethlisberger is completing 74.1 percent of his throws that go 10 yards or fewer with eight touchdowns and one interception. On his passes over 20 yards, he has a 23.8 percent completion rate (5 of 21), which ranks 28th in the league.

Obviously, the Steelers need to take more shots down the field to put up more points (they've scored more than 24 points twice this season). But the numbers say the Steelers shouldn't attack downfield consistently because they're not having success there as it is.

In order for the Steelers to generate more big plays downfield, they need to establish a running game and they took a good first step in doing so Sunday night. Pittsburgh has to get defenses to at least respect the run, making a safety inch closer to the line, which will open up more chances to go over the top.