Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Offense Progressing, but Not Full Speed Yet

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Offense Progressing, but Not Full Speed Yet

Article excerpt

Thirty points per game was the stated goal before the season. All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell were going to light up opposing defenses. The return of Martavis Bryant was going to add another dimension as was the arrival of rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Expectations were sky-high for the Steelers offense, but early on it has been rather ordinary. The Steelers are the definition of a middle-of-the-pack NFL offense.

They are 15th in the league in total offense, averaging 312 yards per game. That's 60 yards fewer than a year ago and almost 100 fewer than their 2014 pace when they averaged 411 yards per game and finished second in the league in total offense.

It's only two games, but, if this keeps up, they'll average their fewest yards per game since the 2008 season.

"No one is going to be perfect," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "We know that. We'd like to be as good as we can be. We know there will be mistakes, but, if we can continue to make improvements, that's important. You don't want to be playing your best football right now. You want to find ways to win football games and keep getting better so your best football, hopefully, is being played in December and January."

Coach Mike Tomlin has said Bell's absence from training camp has contributed to his slow start. He has 119 rushing yards, which ranks 13th in the league.

Bell's receiving statistics have declined even more than his rushing stats. He has just 19 receiving yards after two games. He has averaged 41 receiving yards per game in his career.

"We're taking shots down the field," said Roethlisberger, who is 11th in the league in passing with 253 yards per game. "We're not putting him out at a receiver position yet.

"We haven't gotten him involved in check-down passing game yet. We'll continue to evolve and grow.

"I know there is no cause for concern. It's just the way games are playing out right now."

Brown is the only Steelers player leading the league in an offensive category. He is averaging 122 yards per game although the Vikings held him to 62 yards on five receptions.

Roethlisberger isn't fazed by any of the perceived offensive struggles. …

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