To say that the Pittsburgh Steelers offense hasn't performed up to snuff over the first two weeks of the 2023 season is an understatement. Things have been downright pitiful for Kenny Pickett and company.
Not counting the two defensive scores that helped aid this team to victory against the Browns in Week 2, the Steelers have managed a dismal 9.5 offensive points per game as we get set to enter Week 3. This number would be good for dead last in the NFL. Even with two defensive touchdowns already, their offense is just 26th in score.
The story is the same for practically any raw number you want to pull out. Pittsburgh is currently 31st in yards per game, 30th in yards per play, 29th in third-down conversion percentage, 32nd in first downs per game, and 31st in time of possession.
As hard as this is to stomach, the squeamish should look away, because the statistic I'm about to show you is vomit-inducing.
The Steelers are practically in a quadrant of their own when it comes to EPA. This is a measure of Expected Points Added. Here's a lengthier description of EPA, according to nfelo. Essentially what this graphic shows is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are dead last in the NFL by a mile in their Expected Points Added both when running the ball and dropping back to pass.
To put this into perspective, the Carolina Panthers are closer to having the very best EPA in the NFL than they are to the Steelers right now. Having watched both Panthers games so far, I can tell you just how concerning that is for Pittsburgh fans.
Why is the Steelers offensive EPA so bad?
There are plenty of fingers to point and blame to pass around, but this ultimately falls on the offensive coordinator. I have been stressing for a year now how much distaste I have for Matt Canada's passing concepts. When receivers are in route, the spacing is poor, they don't often run picks or rub plays, the middle of the field isn't utilized, and there aren't many routes engineered to pick up sizeable gains with yards after the catch.
While Pittsburgh doesn't have the most talented offense in the NFL, it's hard to imagine that a 'lack of talent' would have them in a tier of their own at the bottom of the league, well behind teams like the Panthers, Texans, Giants, Cardinals, and Bears. The offense has been so inefficient that the only logical explanation is to point to the offensive coordinator.
Of course, Kenny Pickett has been far from good this season, and his individual EPA is near the bottom of the league among quarterbacks. An improvement from him could certainly help boost the offensive EPA of the Steelers.
Obviously, there's never a one-size-fits-all solution, and Mike Tomlin needs to take all things into consideration. If this persists, personnel and coaching changes could soon be in the works.
Though nobody is faultless here, there's no doubt in my mind that Matt Canada is the biggest name to blame, and just like last year, I think the Steelers would be wise to fire him to the moon before they reach a point of no return on offense. One thing is for sure: The Pittsburgh Steelers cannot remain dead last in offensive EPA and expect to be a competitive team in 2023.
EPA graphic and statistics courtesy of rbsdm.com.