Friday, December 12, 2014

Seeing the value in Steelers TE Matt Spaeth

By KiwiSteelerFan

December 11, 2014

It's a thankless job, being the second tight end on a dynamic offense like the Steelers. Antonio Brown needs to get the ball, so there's 60 percent of the team's targets. Le'Veon Bell needs to run the ball, so there's even fewer passes to go around. Add in Heath Miller, a player with his own fan-stamped yell for each catch he gets.

There really just isn't anything left for Steelers TE Matt Spaeth. But he's making it work anyway.

Here are the offensive snap count percentages for each game played so far.

Heading into Week 15, there's a pattern developing. Check out Matt Spaeth's snap-count percentages this season. When he's in, he's there to block both on passing and running plays, and he has been a major factor in the improved play of the Steelers' offense. His snap-count is almost directly proportional to how well the offense goes.

Going through and looking at our best and worst offensive performances of the year, this makes for an interesting read. Some of the best performances the Steelers' offense has had this season were against Carolina, Indianapolis and Baltimore, as well as that that monster rushing effort from Bell against the Titans and last weekend's destruction of the Bengals. Some of the worst performances were at Baltimore in Week 2, at Cleveland, the Jets and the Saints games.

Although against the Saints we actually ended up producing quite a lot of yardage, most of it came when the game was already over. The Buccaneers game was another low-light.

In all of our best offensive performances, Spaeth's snaps are well over 30 percent and often nudging on 50 percent. In the worst offensive performances, he's well under 30 percent, bottoming out at 5 percent in probably our worst performance of the year, the embarrassment in Baltimore.

Does Spaeth being in there blocking in both the running and passing games boost us more than any other single player? There's probably good reason to wonder about it. As maligned as Spaeth was during his first stint as a Steeler, it's clear that he is, at least now, an excellent blocker for both the run and pass games. He's helping open big holes for Bell but, perhaps more importantly, he's helping keep Ben vertical and unharrassed. And when he does, even though we're a receiver short, it doesn't matter because the Steelers have three guys who can get open on anyone given time.

More Spaeth please.

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