Big Ben has been throwing a lot of short passes. But, he needs some perspective in how that is making HIM a successful QB this season. Credit: Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

Steelers Roethlisberger Needs 'Dink and Dunk' Perspective

On Friday, the Steelers Ben Roethlisberger spoke to the Trib and had this to say,

Haley’s offense is not a big-play offense.  It’s kind of a dink-and-dunk offense.

Those three words rarely have a positive connotation to it.  It’s a degrading term and has ‘weak’ undertones to it.  It’s one of the few times thus far this season that Ben has spoken his ‘displeasure’ about how Haley is coaching and commanding this offense.  Ask anyone from Kansas City, and they’ll tell you how much they hate Todd Haley… the head coach.  But I think we all need to (including Ben) give Haley a lot of credit for identifying the weaknesses of this offense and using with what works in order to make it successful.  It’s helping Big Ben have one of his better seasons.  I think Ben needs to realize that.

The dink and dunk has impacted this offense in a positive way:

– Short yardage plays have allowed team to convert on third downs.  The team has the best third down conversion rate in the NFL.  Ben has he best rating on third down in the league.

– Ben has one of the lowest interception percentages in the league – 2 INT in 198 attempts.  RGIII has only two interceptions, but Big Ben has more passing attempts.  The more frequented and quick strike passing game has greatly contributed to this low rate.

– Ben’s accuracy is in question the further down the field he goes with his throws.  His attempts down the field to Wallace and Brown are either under thrown, overthrown, or too far outside.  This is related to the interception percentage, but if you can’t throw the ball consistently with accuracy down the field you aren’t going to very often.  That’s a good thing for Ben right now.

– The Steelers defense is struggling this season.  The dink and dunk keeps the field longer.  As long as the offense keeps converting on 3rd down (which the Steelers are), it keeps the defense off the field longer.  Keeping them at the very least rested, but also protecting them from themselves.

– The dink and dunk is exactly the way the New England Patriots play.  As much as I can’t stand that team and loathe Belichick, the Pats are a very successful offense.  That’s one big reason why.  They recognize what they are good at, stick with it, and make the most of their chances.

But is this offense truly ‘dink and dunk?’  Kurt Warner on NFL Network on Sunday morning compared his time with Todd Haley when Warner was with the Cardinals.  He did not feel like the Cards were dink and dunk, especially with down the field threats like Larry Fitzgerald.  Warner looked back at how many 21+ yard (in the air not YAC) pass plays he had in his seasons with Haley.  He said that Big Ben is actually on pace for more 21+ yard plays than he was in his biggest season with Haley.  So is the offense really dink and dunk?

Well regardless, it doesn’t matter how you ‘define’ or categorize the offense.  The team can drive the field.  The problem is the same as it has always been – finishing with points in the Red Zone.  Big Ben is correct in that assessment:

For us, the big thing is that when we get into the red zone, we don’t get complicated. We need to finish drives.

There’s a heap of truth in that statement.  That’s where Haley needs to step up in calling the offense.  You got the team in a position to score.  Now call the plays that will get them into the end zone.  I’m going to point this out in another post, but there is an evolution in the AFC North from dominating defenses to pass happy offenses.  The Steelers’ rival Ravens are going through very similar growing pains.  The Ravens once dominant defense is becoming as porous as the Steelers.  However, Joe ‘Bert’ Flacco and the offense have been racking up the points to overcome their defensive deficiencies.  It’s coming with Red Zone efficiency.

Let’s see if the Steelers can dink and dunk their way to a victory against the Bengals.

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