How Steelers' offense will improve

Mendenhall's return will help run game and open up deep passing attack

Originally Published: October 11, 2012
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Steelers/EaglesVincent Pugliese/US PresswireRashard Mendenhall helped the Pittsburgh Steelers to a win on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' formula for success under Mike Tomlin has varied a bit in his six-year tenure, but in general it has combined a pressure defense with an above-average offense that hits the long pass and can run to close out games once the team leads in the second half.

In 2012, that formula has been thrown out of whack in part because age and injuries have brought the defense down a notch from its previous lofty statistical perch. Pittsburgh ranks tied for 11th in yards per play allowed (5.1) and has given up eight touchdown passes against only five turnovers and eight sacks in four games.

Had that happened in previous seasons, the Steelers' offense might have been able to take up the slack. That hasn't been the case this season, as a mediocre rushing attack (3.2 yards per carry, tied for 30th) has helped keep Pittsburgh to a middle-of-the-road total in the points per game category (23.3, ranked 16th).

That would be bad news if it were to continue, but after I reviewed the film, it turns out there are many reasons to think that the Steelers' offense is about to turn this team's season around.

Pittsburgh's run-blocking has actually been pretty good this year