Too often for their liking last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense acted like the high-performance sports car that sputtered and stalled when it was time to pull away from a traffic light.
The Steelers were second in the league in total yards in 2014, but ranked lower in red-zone performance. According to Football Outsiders, they ranked eighth in efficiency inside the 20-yard line and 19th in success rate at just under 52 percent, as computed by TeamRankings.com.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said the team needs to address the drop-off in the red zone.
"I think it's an area of emphasis for us," Haley said, as reported by ESPN.com.
To that end, the Steelers are working on short-yardage packages during organized team activities.
“When we get down in there tight, where football gets tough, we have to get the ball in the end zone, whether it’s running or throwing it,” Haley said.
But most of all, Pittsburgh can’t afford to come away with nothing. Settling for a field goal still is preferable to putting up zero points, which Haley recalled happened 10 times last season.
"We have a very good kicker [Shaun Suisham]," Haley said. "Really, how we changed our mentality, once we hit the 35 in decent weather conditions, we have to assume we have a chance to get three points. If we don't end up with at least three, then we’ve hurt ourselves. Too many times last year [zero points] occurred for different reasons, whether it was a turnover or sack. Those add up surprisingly quick."
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