Statistically Speaking: How Bad was the 2019 Offense?

Aaron Josefczyk/UPI

By: G.Stryker, Twitter @SNStryker and Instagram @SNStryker

Pittsburgh Steelers fans have been spoiled by their franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Since he became a starter his rookie year in 2004, the offense has finished in the top 3rd of the league 11 times, and 7 times in the top 10. Losing their field general of 16 years can really affect your offensive output. Last year, the Steelers offensive rankings (led primarily by 2nd year quarterback Mason Rudolph and undrafted rookie free agent Devlin “Duck” Hodges), dropped like a rock. Pittsburgh ranked 30th in yards and 27th in scoring last year. The Steelers have never finished ranked this low in yardage in their entire history. You have to go back to 1989, when that team led by Bubby Brister, finished 28th in yards, yet still managed to make the playoffs and win a game against the Houston Oilers. The previous low for points scored is in 1998 when they finished 28th in scoring with Kordell Stewart at the helm.

Later in this series, we will look at individual offensive performances and where they rank in Pittsburgh’s history, but since I want to end this article on a high note, we will move our statistical focus to the offensive output for special teams.  

Chris Boswell bounced back after a terrible 2018 where he missed 5 extra points and 7 field goals. Few teams would keep a kicker who missed 12 kicks the previous year, but they liked what they saw from his Pro Bowl 2017 performance when he only missed 3 field goals and 2 extra points. In 2019, Boswell had his best year to date as he only missed 2 field goals out of 31 attempts and was perfect on all 28 of his extra points. Boswell tied Josh Lambo of the Jacksonville Jaguars with 2 kicks missed on the season for kickers with at least 14 field goal attempts. The last time a Steelers kicker missed only 2 kicks was in 2013 when Shaun Suisham only missed 2 of his 32 field goal attempts while hitting all 39 of his extra points. Important to note this is when extra points were still kicked from the 2-yard line.   

The punt return team also saw a return to greatness when Diontae Johnson came on late in the season to score a touchdown and earn a 2nd team All Pro nod as a punt returner. Though Johnson was 6th in punt return yardage, he led the league with 12.4 yards per return, which is a full yard greater than #2 Braxton Barrios and 3 full yards better than 2019 1st team All Pro and Pro Bowl punt returner Deonte Harris. The last time the Steelers had a punt returner with a better return average was in 2013 when Antonio Brown had 12.8 yards per return and one touchdown scored. It is good to see the punt return team have some success with Johnson, as he should be successfully manning those duties for the next few foreseeable years.


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