While the Pittsburgh Steelers offense has not set the world ablaze in its opening two games, there is an encouraging trend from its first two outings: it is limiting its turnovers. While the Steelers offense, which boast weapons like Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger, is 15th in the NFL in total offense, it has only turned the ball over once – an interception against the Browns in Week 1. Logic dictates that as Bell gets up to speed and gives defenses more to think about when defending the Steelers offense, the field will open up and the Steelers offense will become more dynamic. However, regardless of how well they move the ball, and they likely will find more rhythm as the season progresses, turnover reduction should be the primary goal. In 2016, Steelers quarterbacks combined to throw 15 interceptions, a marked improvement from 2015 when the Steelers threw 21 interceptions and lost seven fumbles.
Turnovers, particularly interceptions, have been an issue for Ben Roethlisberger since coming into the league in 2004. Only once in seasons he completed more than 13 games has Roethlisberger managed fewer than 10 interceptions once: in 2014. Roethlisberger has thrown 12 or more interceptions six times in his 14-year career. Roethlisberger reportedly has focused on throwing fewer interceptions after the coaches were unhappy with the number of interceptions he threw during OTAs. He managed to finish training camp with no interceptions and has transferred that ball security into the regular season. Turnover reduction will only continue to increase in importance as the season drags on and the games increase in significance. Steelers’ fans will care little in terms of how many yards the team puts up offensively if they continue to take care of the ball and put enough points on the board to keep opponents at arm’s length.
While game-management focuses like turnover reduction emphasis are not flashy and will likely not make the end-of-game highlight packages, they are arguably the most important component of success for an NFL team. If the Steelers are able to continue their focuses on keeping the ball when they are in possession, it will allow them time to sort out their other offensive struggles.