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Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians has indeed recommitted himself to running the football, but has he committed himself to getting better at calling plays in the redzone?
If Week 1 was any indication, the answer is a resounding no.
While you can argue that he is running his offense on a limited, watered-down, and otherwise thin playbook, there still no excuse for changing the flow and rhythm of what your offense has done all the way down the field to get to the redzone.
On more than one occasion, the Steelers marched the ball down the field, only to slow the pace and take the ball out of the hands of Dixon with a short field.
While wanting to take the pressure off of a young quarterback where the pressure increases most seems logical, the Steelers do not have the strength up front to rely upon their offensive line to change the line of scrimmage.
The running game was much improved, especially in the “pony formation,” including both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, but in order to allow them room to run, Dixon has to be an established threat.
Dixon’s mobility was rarely a factor in the game, especially in the redzone. Keeping him in the pocket on a short field is not only more difficult for him against an increased pass-rush, bit it never allowed him the option to make plays with his legs.
Rolling Dixon out and getting him mobile in the redzone would force the defense to respect his run ability, while giving him an option to ad lib, rather than keeping him in the pocket where he was under duress and sacked three times.
The Steelers and Bruce Arians will need to find a way to utilize the only high-caliber skill Dixon possesses at this point in his young career if they are going to be successful on the opponent’s side of mid-field.