How did the Pittsburgh Steelers wind up stacking up to other teams statistically?
Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger finished the season as a 64% passer, with 28 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He put up 4,251 yards, 7.6 yards per attempt. Of qualified passers, he was top ten in completion rate, top five in yards and touchdowns, while maintaining top ten in yards per attempt.
What is interesting to note about Roethlisberger is how much better he got statistically over the final stretch of the season. This is when the team moved quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner down to the sideline to make life easier for Roethlisberger. Fichtner, of course, was recently named offensive coordinator.
The defenses struggles helped him statistically, but including playoffs, the last seven games of his season saw him as a 67% completion passer, which 21 touchdowns to five interceptions and 2,422 yards, 7.7 per attempt.
Over a full season, he would have jumped to fifth in completion percentage, led the league in yards and touchdowns and finished eighth in yards per attempt. No to mention dropping from fourth to 16th in interceptions. There is no doubt about it, Roethlisberger was amazing over the last seven weeks of the season. It is not a direct correlation to Fichtner, but it does give you the trust to ride with him as Roethlisberger’s guy next year.
Bell finished in third in the NFL in rushing with 1,291 yards. However, he also leads the league in carries with 321, 34 more than any other back. However, his 4 yards per attempt rate him lower than Isaiah Crowell. Still, it does have him tied with LeSean McCoy, and at a better rate than Carlos Hyde and Leonard Fournette. It comes with the territory of being a workhorse. Overall it would be tough to argue that Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley were not on the level of Bell. What separates Bell is his receiving ability. Even while leading the league in carries, Bell finished sixth in the NFL in receptions, leading backs in receptions. However, in yards, he finished 30th, behind Gurley, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara. As a workhorse, it is tough to say that anyone earned their check more than Le’Veon Bell. Still, it is also tough to say that Bell was more impactful than Todd Gurley in 2017. Still, statistically, Bell has just as good of an argument for a huge contract as he did at this point last season.
Bell was the workhorse, and no one else got work. Conner had 32 carries for 144 yards, Ridley had 26 for 108 with a touchdown Toussaint had 6 for 21, and Watson had 5 for 8. Conner was good for a spark off of the bench, mainly because of his completely different running style than Bell. However, he struggled as a pass blocker and was targeted just once. Watson is very limited as a lateral mover, and Toussaint is what he is. Ridley played well in Week 17 against the Browns, but he is not a player that you have to bring back. It is pretty clear that the team will have to at least franchise tag Le’Veon Bell.
Brown missed the last two games with a calf injury but still put up 101 receptions for 1,533 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was everybody’s favorite fantasy wide receiver and really separated himself from the pack for his consistency through early season struggles from Ben Roethlisberger. Brown had seven receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns with an injured calf against the best defense in the NFL. He never had any separation but made plays all game solidifying an All-Time great status.
Early in the season, it was obvious that Martavis Bryant was the number two wide receiver. However, with early season struggles, the team experimented moving Martavis Bryant into the slot, and Smith-Schuster outside. He was a better blocker on the outside and gave the offense more flexibility. By the end of the season, many could argue Smith-Schuster is the better player. Smith-Schuster finished with 58 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. Bryant finished with 50 for 603 and three touchdowns.
Eli Rogers caught 18 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Heyward-Bey added two receptions for 47 yards. Hunter put in four receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown. Overall Rogers shines and will be back next year. He is a favorite of Roethlisberger and may get more targets next season with the new offense. Heyward-Bey is a special teams helper. Hunter is likely to get cut after an unimpressive season that showed a lack of understanding when it comes to the offense.
In seven games, McDonald put up 14 receptions for 188 yards and a touchdown. In his last playoff game, he put up 10 receptions for 112 yards. James caught 43 passes for 372 and three touchdowns. Xavier Grimble added in five receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown.