PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers were second in the league with 6,577 total yards last season. Todd Haley's job, however, is to coordinate the offense through the prizm of improvement.
That’s why Haley is still a bit fired up that the Steelers didn’t finish in the top five in red-zone offense.
"I think it's an area of emphasis for us," Haley said of red-zone efficiency.
The Steelers ranked seventh league-wide with 27.3 points per game. Football Outsiders, which keeps and provides advanced stats on NFL teams, ranks the Steelers eighth in red-zone efficiency. Teamrankings.com has the Steelers with a 51.72 percent success rate in the red zone, good enough for 19th in the league.
Haley remembers at least 10 trips inside or close to the red zone when the Steelers produced zero points. Ten field goals equal 30 points, which would have pushed the Steelers closer to the top five.
A healthy portion of the Steelers' organized team activities sessions are dedicated to red-zone play, including packages from the 2-yard line.
"We have a very good kicker," Haley said of Shaun Suisham. "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 3 points. If we don't end up with at least 3, 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."
The Steelers "got in (the red zone) a bunch," Haley said, which is a positive sign. And the offense's big-play ability produced several scores from outside the 20.
"But 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.
When Haley studied the Steelers' trends from inside the 35-yard line, he was dismayed by the turnovers.
"We can’t give away points," he said.