Steelers vs Bengals: 3 Key matchups to watch in week 4
Randy Fichtner vs. Himself
Randy, Randy, Randy… My goodness, last year he looked like ten times the offensive coordinator Todd Haley was.
The offense had one of the best red-zone percentages in the league converting 73.47% of their opportunities. This year that number has dropped to 50%.
Is Ben the magician and strong hand in the Steelers offense? Or is Randy just having a rough year?
From calling the same run three times in a row (see week 1 in New England), having a super conservative approach to Mason Rudolph’s first half, and what seems like a lack of creativity on offense, I think it’s a matter of Randy Fichtner just making Todd Haley bad calls.
Todd Haley often tried to “outsmart” opponents (e.g., 2017 vs. Jacksonville, electing to throw more vs. a struggling Jax run defense.) I get the sense Randy has been trying to do some things similar.
He has been facing a lot of doubt now that Antonio Brown is no longer on the team in being able to generate a passing game… but why try doing things like trying to expose a weakness that isn’t there (toss counter in week 1 vs. New England comes to mind) or not giving a play-maker (Jaylen Samuels) any touches last week?
Ultimately, I believe it is mostly a lack of execution that is hurting the offense. Make no mistake though; Coach Fichtner isn’t helping with some questionable schemes, playing calling, and game planning. I believe he is still a good OC who just needs to, as Tomlin often states, “living in [their] fears.”
Monday Night will be a massive night for the Steelers. All three of these match-ups will have to be won for the Steelers to try to start to make a serious run towards the playoffs.
Tune in later this week to Stillcurtain.com for more previews of the Bengals @ Steelers match-up and on the “Steel City Down South Podcast.”
Here we go Steelers!