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Arthur Smith

What to expect from Steelers offense

The Steelers have hired Arthur Smith as their offensive coordinator. Seldom has a coaching hire been met with more disappointment in the fantasy community. With Smith an apparent negative for top-10 talents in Atlanta, what are the chances of him elevating the Steelers?

In two of Smith's three seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons ranked 26th in scoring; in two they ranked in the bottom 10 in total yards (17th in the third). He must interview really well, although the assembled media in Atlanta, regularly at odds with him, would be skeptical.

On Smith's behalf (since this isn't just a hit piece), he was pretty successful as Tennessee's offensive coordinator for two years (which earned him the Falcons job in the first place). They were top-12 in scoring offense in 2019 and 2020 and top 12 in yards. That was not a Titans team loaded with offensive talent -- although of course, they had Derrick Henry. In both years they were in the top 5 in rushing offense and outside the top 20 in passing offense.

So there's your hint as to what to expect from the Steelers under Smith: lots of running, and maybe not much in the way of passing. Seems like it might be another year to be frustrated by the usage of George Pickens, Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth. But at least Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren will be busy.

In the last five years, Smith has overseen six players finishing in the top 10 at their positions. Four were running backs: Derrick Henry (twice), Cordarrelle Patterson and Bijan Robinson. I don't think anyone wants to give Smith all the credit for Henry, who had plenty of good seasons with different coordinators, or Robinson (who arguably could have been better if Smith had utilized him a little more). But at least there have been some productive running backs under him, so maybe Najee and Jaylen will fare well in Smith's offense.

Receivers haven't fared as well. A couple of top-15 TE seasons from Kyle Pitts (though again, the tight end drafted earliest in the history of the league should have done at least that well). A pair of top-25 seasons from A.J. Brown (he's been better in Philadelphia). Not much else.

2020Derrick Henry00202719114173
2019Derrick Henry00154018206185
2021Kyle Pitts00068102616
2023Bijan Robinson009765848788
2020Ryan Tannehill3819332661078
2021Cordarrelle Patterson00618525481110
2020A.J. Brown0007010751211
2023Kyle Pitts00-453667313
2020Jonnu Smith00441448916
2023Jonnu Smith00050582317
2021Matt Ryan3968208200118
2022Marcus Mariota22191543800420
2019Jonnu Smith007835439320
2023Desmond Ridder2836121931-6522
2019A.J. Brown0060521051922
2019Ryan Tannehill27422218500423
2020Anthony Firkser00039387125
2022Drake London00072866428
2020Corey Davis00065984529
2022Tyler Allgeier00103516139430
2022Cordarrelle Patterson0069521122931
2022Kyle Pitts00028356234
2021Mike Davis0050344259434
2023Drake London220069905236
2023Tyler Allgeier0068318193536
2021Hayden Hurst00026221336
2019Marcus Mariota1203712900036
2021Russell Gage00066770437
2023Taylor Heinicke890512400142
2019Delanie Walker00021215243
2022MyCole Pruitt00016150445
2022Desmond Ridder70826400048
2019Anthony Firkser00014204149

Best that can be said for Smith's passing games is that most of his quarterbacks have sucked. Desmond Ridder, a past-his-pull-date Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota in most of those years.

But he's making a lateral move to a Pittsburgh offense that will have Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph or somebody not yet on the roster at quarterback. Justin Fields? Couldn't hurt.

I don't imagine I'll be targeting any Steelers receivers next year, barring some sort of dramatic personnel move at quarterback between now and the start of the season.

--Andy Richardson

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