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Yes, the Steelers are a pass-first team

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

There is no identity crisis with this Steelers team.

Perhaps they talk about “establishing the run” or building the offense around Rashard Mendenhall, but their play-calling tells a different story.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsbugh Post-Gazette breaks down the numbers. The Steelers are an average running team in every respect. They excel when Ben Roethlisberger throws it deep, which he is doing with increasing numbers.

The Steelers throw the ball 67.5% of the time. Roethlisberger is on pace to break his own Steelers passing yardage record.

“I think [offensive coordinator] Bruce Arians is doing a great job of understanding the talent that he has,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “He’s putting in practices, he’s putting in plays that go toward our strengths as receivers. Mike [Wallace] is a burner, A.B. [Antonio Brown] is a playmaker, I’m a playmaker. He’s putting in plays that are paying off.”

The Steelers are a passing team. Heck, the Patriots have rushed for more yards than the Steelers for four straight seasons.

It sounds insane, but Hines Ward’s injury this week may work to Pittsburgh’s advantage. No team gives up big plays like the Patriots, who just cut Leigh Bodden and will be without rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling.

Pittsburgh is at its most explosive when Sanders, Brown, and Wallace are on the field together.  Bruce Arians knows it.

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36 Responses to “Yes, the Steelers are a pass-first team”
  1. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Oct 29, 2011 12:19 PM

    Hence why I took Wallace in the second 14 man league early pick.

    That offense is going to be scary good going into the future. I’d say dump mendy, pick up a more all around back and go to a two back system. They won’t be out of the AFC race for the next decade also.

  2. wawa33 says: Oct 29, 2011 12:23 PM

    Because of Ben “The Masher” Rothlisberger…

  3. nuclearwarfare says: Oct 29, 2011 12:34 PM

    As old as that defense is getting, it certainly won’t be the offense that’s holding them back.

  4. redbullenergydrink says: Oct 29, 2011 12:37 PM

    It won’t matter. No way they’re keeping pace with the Patriots.

  5. kernelreefer says: Oct 29, 2011 12:37 PM

    They’re a pass first team because they like winning. What team in the NFL rushes more than they pass?

  6. canetic says: Oct 29, 2011 12:40 PM

    I thought they were a whine-first team

  7. Deb says: Oct 29, 2011 12:46 PM

    I like knowing my QB can sling the ball downfield when need be, but I don’t want him making a habit of it. And like a lot of Steelers fans, I’m wary of Arians. Yes, he can call a great game. We’ve seen him do it. But when things go wrong, he struggles to adapt. Ben had his best passing numbers in 2009–and we didn’t make the playoffs.

    Passing downfield could work against the Pats’ struggling defense. But as everyone keeps pointing out, the key matchup is more likely to be our pass rush against Brady.

  8. deebo92 says: Oct 29, 2011 12:50 PM

    Couple of years ago the Steelers were caught being a pass first team. The only problem was the wide receiving corp wasn’t as talented as they are now. Now, they have the talent, the young talent, to do it. The Arians is still mixing in the run better than he did that year.

  9. Bubby Brister says: Oct 29, 2011 12:52 PM

    Are you guys kidding me? The Steelers have been a pass-first team for almost 5 years.

    BREAKING: BARACK OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT

  10. steelchamps says: Oct 29, 2011 1:25 PM

    As the weather gets colder. The good teams get better. Patriots better buckle up if they want to win @ Pitt again.
    Mike Wallace all day tomorrow.

  11. geniusfan says: Oct 29, 2011 1:27 PM

    Everybody said the Dallas New England game would be a shootout and it turned out to be a defensive struggle.

    People are saying similar things this week but it wouldn’t shock me one bit if this game is played in the high teens and low twenties.

  12. iknowitallandmore says: Oct 29, 2011 1:29 PM

    The Steelers are toooo old. Until the defense gets completely rebuilt, do not count on any deep playoff runs.

    No Super Bowl hopes for at least 5 years

  13. wtf2812 says: Oct 29, 2011 1:35 PM

    I want to have my cake AND eat it, too.

    The Steelers should pass more … with a different O-coordinator making the calls.

  14. pleasantsurpriselefty says: Oct 29, 2011 1:35 PM

    Pats game plan: spread em out, find out who your 5th weakest defender is covering and throw it to them. Oh yeah, do it all no huddle, 2 minute drill speed and when confusion reigns, Brady delivers the kill shot. Simple.

  15. steelerfan999 says: Oct 29, 2011 1:49 PM

    iknowitallandmore says:
    Oct 29, 2011 1:29 PM
    The Steelers are toooo old. Until the defense gets completely rebuilt, do not count on any deep playoff runs.

    No Super Bowl hopes for at least 5 years

    top 3 in total defense.

  16. your6ringsaremeaninglessnow says: Oct 29, 2011 2:11 PM

    With as weak as New England’s secondary is currently, the Pats look like they’re going to get squashed like a gRape by Big Ben and the Steelers.

  17. TheWizard says: Oct 29, 2011 2:19 PM

    Gonna be a good one. Too bad the snow wasn’t tomorrow.

  18. winnersagain says: Oct 29, 2011 2:39 PM

    This game will be unlike last year. I see the steelers controlling time of possession, running up some points somewhere in the 20’s and coming out with a victory. Even if they do slip up, the Big Game is against the Ratbirds next week, BIG DEAL! I still dont see it happenning tho! I see at the very WORSE a split over the next two weeks with All Steeler fans wanting a win over B-more more then the patty cakes. Pred Steelers 24-20 over the pats.

  19. stairwayto7 says: Oct 29, 2011 2:45 PM

    Pitt 38 Pats 21..

  20. kyleortonsarm says: Oct 29, 2011 2:59 PM

    I guess that also goes with being a “Suck first team”.

  21. ampats says: Oct 29, 2011 3:52 PM

    This game will tell alot about where the Steelers are. I don’t get the overconfidence in some of these comments as WHO have the Steelers beat? They lost to both teams over 500 they played. The Pariots D is getting better every week .

    Should be a good game.

  22. nflfuturist says: Oct 29, 2011 3:57 PM

    Hats off to Bruce Arians for recognizing what the strength’s are of the Steeler’s current talent and adopting his game instead of trying to change the players.

    The NFL could really benefit from more of this.

  23. cardmagnet says: Oct 29, 2011 4:10 PM

    It’s not even really a “pass first” team, it’s a “hail mary first” team. The majority of their plays are just bombing it down the field and hoping the speedy WRs can get under it. There’s little skill involved; it’s just letting a track team catch up to the rock. It works though.

  24. jpietrefesa says: Oct 29, 2011 4:16 PM

    “iknowitallandmore says:
    Oct 29, 2011 1:29 PM
    The Steelers are toooo old. Until the defense gets completely rebuilt, do not count on any deep playoff runs.

    No Super Bowl hopes for at least 5 years”

    DEFENSE
    Lamarr Woodley – 26
    Lawrence Timmons – 25
    Ziggy Hood – 24
    Cam Heyward – 22
    Jason Worilds – 23
    Curtis Brown – 23
    Keenan Lewis – 25

    OFFENSE
    Antonio Brown – 23
    Marcus Gilbert – 23
    Maurkice Pouncey – 22
    Emannuel Sanders – 23
    Mike Wallace – 25
    Rashard Mendenhall – 25

    YOU WERE SAYING?? ALL THESE GUYS HAVE BEEN STRONG CONTRIBUTORS AND ARE ONLY GONNA GET BETTER.

    KNOW YOUR FACTS BEFORE YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH MORON.

    6 RINGS….I THINK WE KNOW WHAT WERE DOING……..

  25. howiegtr says: Oct 29, 2011 5:44 PM

    top 3 in total defense.

    ————————————————–

    teams the Steelers have played and they’re overall offensive ranking:

    Baltimore-20th loss
    Seattle -31 win
    indy-30 win
    Houston -7 loss
    Tenn-24 win
    Jacksonville-32 win
    Arizona-16 win
    Average opponent ranking:23

    Patriots:
    Miami-19 win
    San Diego-8 win
    Buffalo-10 loss
    Oakland-12 win
    Jests-29 win
    Dallas-6 win
    Average opponent ranking:14

    do some homework before to start bragging about your defense pitt fans

  26. CKL says: Oct 29, 2011 6:34 PM

    geniusfan says: Oct 29, 2011 1:27 PM

    Everybody said the Dallas New England game would be a shootout and it turned out to be a defensive struggle.

    People are saying similar things this week but it wouldn’t shock me one bit if this game is played in the high teens and low twenties.
    ________________________________________
    Me either. They are almost like division rivals as often as they play each other, though I know the scores have been pretty high in the past handful of games between them.

    Usually what I think is the Pats’ biggest problem heading into any given game (for this one I think secondary covering the speedy Pitt WRs)turns out NOT to be it’s biggest problem. The Pats had a decimated secondary in its last SB winning year but the front 7 was much more solid then (LB corps especially).

  27. steelchamps says: Oct 29, 2011 6:37 PM

    I think BOTH these teams have earned the right to brag a little.

  28. tedmurph says: Oct 29, 2011 6:57 PM

    What makes Steeler fans think this year is gonna be any different? It’s just a bad matchup for the Steelers. Even with a lousy D, Belichick always does a good job of taking away what you do best. I told Raider fans Mcfadden wouldn’t get 100 yrds. Wallace won’t get more than 75. Then who you gonna beat them with. Brady will just spread ‘em out, make their safeties bite on play action and pick ‘em apart. Steelers can’t match up with Pats TEs. Sorry, but it’s just time for your annual trip to the woodshed.

  29. Deb says: Oct 29, 2011 8:00 PM

    @tedmurph …

    What makes Pats fans think this year won’t be any different. Nothing stays the same forever.

  30. tedmurph says: Oct 29, 2011 8:41 PM

    @Deb:

    I can’t speak for Pats fans and I’m not saying the Steelers will never beat the Pats. Until there is a change in the dynamic though, I see no reason to expect a different result. Pats are a game plan team that exposes other teams weaknesses. Steelers do what they do, line up and say come and beat us. They do it very well. Problem is, the secondary hasn’t had a good cover CB in yrs, and they don’t get to Brady with their outside blitzes. You have to pressure Brady up the middle, like the jets and Ravens. I think the Pats offense is even better this yr. Steelers WRs are good, but Pats D was bad last yr and the Steelers only scored 3pts till garbage time. There is a reason Vegas made a good team like the Steelers underdogs @ home and the betting public increased the line. I also buy into the fact the Steelers have beat garbage. We’ll see. should be fun. More fun for Pats fans.

  31. sequtugh says: Oct 29, 2011 9:53 PM

    Is this article news to any Steelers fan? 2004 might be the last season we could be considered a run first team.

  32. steelerfan999 says: Oct 29, 2011 10:06 PM

    howiegtr says:
    Oct 29, 2011 5:44 PM
    top 3 in total defense.

    ————————————————–

    teams the Steelers have played and they’re overall offensive ranking:

    Baltimore-20th loss: 7 turnovers:not defenses fault
    Seattle -31 win
    indy-30 win:again turnovers on offense
    Houston -7 loss:more turnovers
    Tenn-24 win
    Jacksonville-32 win
    Arizona-16 win
    Average opponent ranking:23

    Patriots:
    Miami-19 win
    San Diego-8 win
    Buffalo-10 loss
    Oakland-12 win
    Jests-29 win
    Dallas-6 win
    Average opponent ranking:14

    do some homework before to start bragging about your defense pitt fans

    11 5 i Rate This

    DO YOUR HOMEWORK,TURNOVERS BY OUR OFFENSE CAUSED THOSE LOSSES.WATCH STEELER FOOTBALL EVERY WEEK AND THEN POST MORON.

  33. tedmurph says: Oct 29, 2011 11:13 PM

    All howiegtr said was the steelers have played against bad offensive teams, implying it helped their def stats, nothing about wins or losses. However, the did lose to the only good offensive team they played. Houston rushed for 180 yrds and pitts only turned it over once in that game(INT).

    Maybe before you call someone else a moron…

  34. antibenapalooza says: Oct 30, 2011 9:17 AM

    Remember March 5, 2010

  35. Deb says: Oct 30, 2011 11:53 AM

    @tedmurph …

    Wish I could say I was being more than facetious with that comment :) It’s not that I don’t think we’re capable of beating the Pats–I do. Certainly, this year our offensive unit can get it done against your defense. But Brady’s a machine, and as a rule, we don’t play well when we’re in the hole.

    I love Dick LeBeau, but for whatever reason–personnel or stubborn adherence to his own blitzing schemes–he has never followed the proven formula for beating Brady. As you said–and the Giants, Jets, Browns, Ravens have proved–you’ve got to attack him up the middle. Maybe it’s not having that great cover corner we’ve been missing since losing Rod Woodson. I don’t know. But if the defense comes out with the same schemes as usual and the offense is playing catch-up … it will be another long day for the black and gold. But, hey, I’m an eternal optimist :D

  36. tedmurph says: Oct 30, 2011 12:33 PM

    Either way, good luck and enjoy the game. Maybe it’s part 1 of 2 this year. Now that the Colts are dead, Steelers and Jets are the most fun games. Went last yr, wish I could have made it again. Nice city. Sharp Edge Brew Pub was a good time.

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