One win. One win. One win. As a Pittsburgh Mauler supporter, that is all you ever hear. The only other thing you hear from the fans of other teams is that “Kirby cut a player over chicken salad and pizza.” But it was so much more than that. Here is the true digestive review of the Maulers. Let's break it down by position group. Offense only this time.
Let us start with the offensive line. Not the most glorious position on the field. If the unit is graded on protecting the quarterback and rushing attack then they did their job. In pass protection, they gave up 18 sacks total. That was the 3 best in the league. But if you dive a bit deeper into that number, the Maulers had the best pass protection. The Maulers had 331 attempts and gave up 18 sacks. So for every 18.39 pass attempts, the offensive line gave up a sack. In terms of pass protection, the offensive line was second in the league. The offensive line kept the quarterbacks up right and gave them an opportunity to make a play.
In terms of running, these numbers are not as pretty. The Maulers were in the lower half of almost all statistical categories. The running game had some bright spots, but as a unit, the offensive line was better in pass protection.
Moving to the skill positions, questions are to be had. Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports when leading the team. The quarterback needs to lead the team in the locker room and on the field. The constant rotation of quarterbacks led to offensive disarray. The Maulers had four quarterbacks take significant snaps during the season. Kyle Lauletta was the first round quarterback that had some solid hype as he was the backup to Eli Manning in NY for a period of time. But on May 25th, Lauletta was cut and instantly picked up by the Generals. Josh Love was the quarterback that was drafted in the second QB round and he was cut during the season and instantly became the starter with the Michigan Panthers. If you had choose a QB that defined the Maulers season, it definitely was Vad Lee. The James Madison alum was the leader on the field when the Maulers had their only win. He led the team with 729 yards. Roland Rivers was the fourth and final QB for the Maulers and had moderate success even though he was thrown into difficult situations every time.
After the draft, Kirby Wilson was always talking about toughness. And with his previous coaching experience, the Maulers were the one team that seemed to want to run the ball. The early season pick up of Madre London was seen as a game changer. London averaged 4.3 yards per carry and that was 6th in the league. But he did not get enough opportunities to get the ground game going. There were times when the play calling seemed predictable and that the playbook seemed to have limited capabilities. With an offseason and some continuity, the running game has to get better.
The wideouts and tight end was a thin portion of the roster. Bailey Gaither and Tre Walker were one of the most dynamic playmaking duos in the league. Tre Walker was targeted 60 times with 33 receptions. Bailey Gaither, who is on the NFL Ravens training camp roster, was targeted 39 times with 24 receptions. Taking into effect all of the important receiving numbers, below is the
As you can see, Gaither will be a big miss for the offense. One wideout that you should be watching is Jalen McCleskey. The former Tulane wideout made an impact when given the opportunity. For a team that had limited high powered weapons, McClesky was a great addition to the roster on the same day that the team moved on from Lauletta in May.
The offense needs to find a true identity and stick to it. The constant changing of the leader really put a damper on the offensive prospects. I look forward to the players that have not been signed with the NFL to find some cohesiveness in the off season. The offensive line needs to gel with a diverse playbook. The playbook can not be run 8 times in a row. It needs to be a beautiful blend of passing and running. The playmakers are capable if they are put in the proper situation.
What the offense needs in the off season in my opinion:
-Expand the playbook: The playbook felt dull at times during the season. Run up the gut, run up the gut left and run up the gut right just will not cut it in this league and especially not when teams start to gather continuity.se and now they have to do it on offense.
-Decide on the QB: If it's Vad then run with it. If it's Roland then go with it. Stop switching at will with the QB. As stated before, the QB is your leader. The move from Lauletta was understandable because the performance was not there but the games that Vad was removed seemed a bit emotional rather than planned. Go with the plan and stick with it. No dramatic mid game rewrites.
-Use London as a weapon: I think if London comes back then use him. He finished 6th in the league in yards per carry. You don’t do that on a team that did not excel in the run if you are not talented. London was a stud that didn't get the chances needed to be a star.
-Get more wideouts: There were games where the Maulers wideouts had to play every down because there was no depth. The passing game took off in the second half of the season a bit more because Gaither was able to get a snap off and the same with Walker. I know they didn't pass every down but on the running plays, the wideouts are important to block especially on the outside runs.
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