Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Ravens, Steelers offenses struggling in 2013
By John McTigue
When the Baltimore Ravens (12th) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (27th) meet this Sunday, it’ll be the first time since Week 16 of the 2009 season that the rivals will play when both outside the top 10 of ESPN.com’s NFL Power Rankings.
Although both offenses are being led by Super Bowl winners neither unit has effectively moved the ball this season.
Below is a look at how each offense has struggled this season:
Neither team can run
The Steelers and Ravens rank among the worst rushing teams in the NFL this season, as only the Jaguars are averaging fewer yards per rush.
The Steelers’ inability to run may not come as surprise. The team entered the season without a clear cut starter, with second-round draft pick Le’Veon Bell missing most of pre-season with a foot injury.
Felix Jones, who was acquired in August, leads the team with 92 rush yards. Jones is tied for 69th in the NFL in rushing this season with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Bell has 91 rush yards, and a 2.8 yards per rush average. The 2.8 average is tied for the worst in the NFL (min. 30 rushes) with Willis McGahee and Ravens running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.
Both Rice and Pierce averaged at least 4.4 yards per rush last season, making their struggles more unlikely. This season, the duo is having a tough time even getting out of the backfield unscathed.
The Ravens have been contacted in the backfield on an NFL-high 34 rushing plays this season, which accounts for 22 percent of their total rushes. Last season the Ravens were hit in the backfield on 13 percent of their rushes.
The quick hits have contributed to the Ravens averaging 1.6 rush yards before first contact this season (31st), more than a yard worse than their 2.9 yard average last season.
A lack of run game hasn’t helped either team’s quarterbacks, but those aren’t the only problems on offense for each.
No support for Flacco
After trading Anquan Boldin to the 49ers in the offseason and losing Dennis Pitta to injury, Flacco wasn’t left with much support in the passing game.
Torrey Smith still remains in Baltimore, but he has primarily been used as a deep threat. Since entering the NFL, Smith’s average target has been 17.7 yards downfield, highest in the NFL.
Rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown and veteran Dallas Clark have tried to fill Boldin and Pitta’s shoes this season but they haven’t been able to fill the void completely.
With few dependable options, Flacco has already targeted 13 different receivers this season, two more than all of last season (including playoffs).
Roethlisberger immobile and under pressure
Roethlisberger has always been susceptible to sacks in his career, but this season he has found himself under more pressure than usual.
Roethlisberger has been sacked or put under duress on 30 percent of his dropbacks this season, his highest rate in the last five seasons.
Unlike in years past, Roethlisberger hasn’t been able to escape the pocket and make plays.
Only 20 percent of his passes when under duress have been from outside the pocket (37 percent from 2009 to 2012), which has led to a diminished performance overall when under pressure.