There are all kinds of obvious takes following the big performance by Pittsburgh Steelers’ tight end Ladarius Green this past Sunday. Some of those you’ll probably find here but you’ll also see some other reasons why Green’s log-awaited emergence matters so much.
In Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, Green had six receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. His first as a Steeler. There’s a number in his stat line that I find really significant though and it has significant ramifications for for the other guys that catch passes.
Green’s yards per catch average on Sunday was 18.3. His long was 37 yards so that means his other catches weren’t exactly on the short end. This is important because obviously catching a pass for 18 yards each time means that you’re more than likely moving the chains.
But it also matters to the other guys running routes.
Start with Antonio Brown for instance. All season he has faced coverages that have been rolled towards him. What that means is that besides the cornerback across from him, there has also been a safety waiting for him as well. Not just that, but some teams have used linebackers to drop underneath of Brown forcing Ben Roethlisberger to look elsewhere.
With Green’s ability to get deep, defenses are not going to be as able or willing to sacrifice a safety or linebacker anymore.
Other receivers like Eli Rogers or Cobi Hamilton, who spend more time working underneath, will find more room there as well. In Rogers’ case, that really matters because of his quickness and ability to turn up field. Hamilton relies a little more on using his body to catch the ball but can benefit from Green as well.
Perhaps the one guy who could see the biggest impact in Green’s emergence is Jesse James. On Sunday, James was targeted four times. The first was a crucial drop that would have given the Steelers a first down but after that he caught all three thrown his way. Each of those catches was for an average over 10 yards which again, moves the chains.
If Todd Haley continues to use the two tight end sets then James should expect to see four or more targets every week. He’ll become the safety blanket that Roethlisberger likes to have because he won’t be the one getting deep. Green will do that allowing James to utilize the underneath areas which should be more open now.
Yes, Ladarius Green matters to the success of this offense but it isn’t just about him. He matters to a lot of other guys who catch balls too.
Photo courtesy mezome