"Sep 16, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports Obviously, when you pick the pace of the offense up, it limits what defenses can do from a personnel standpoint, maybe even from a menu standpoint, … But those things are short lived.-Mike Tomlin (new conference reported by ESPN.com’s Scott Brown)"
I certainly understand why Mike Tomlin is concerned with his team adopting a hurry-up or no-huddle strategy on the offensive side of the ball. If it backfires, Pittsburgh’s defense, which has been unable to create pocket-collapse and force turnovers, will be at the absolute mercy of the opponents.
Nevertheless, I was left scratching my head after I considered the following regarding what the Steelers’ offense has from a personnel perspective right now:
- Why should an offense waste time on establishing any sort of running game when its best play-makers exist at the wide receiver position?
- Can Felix Jones, Isaac Redman, and Jonathan Dwyer actually be trusted to shoulder a heavy load on the ground?
- Most of all, why scrap the only offensive scheme which has worked for this team through the season’s first two games?
As I mentioned previously, I completely agree that if a hurry-up offense goes stagnant then it will spell trouble for any defense. Yet what other choice do the Steelers have at this point when one looks at the personnel on their roster.
They cannot run the ball effectively due to their offensive line and their lack of competent running backs, their Pro Bowl tight end is still nursing a knee injury, and their backup tight ends and fullbacks have been nothing short of “traffic cones” on the field when it has come to the passing game.
Pittsburgh has only racked up 75 rushing yards through their first two games, and keeping guys like Markus Wheaton and Derek Moye sidelined in favor of David Paulson, David Johnson, and Will Johnson does nothing to add any explosiveness to the offense.
In their final drive versus the Titans and their final drive of the first half on Monday night against the Bengals, Pittsburgh went into hurry-up mode and it worked for them. Roethlisberger spread the field, distributed the football to his most potent weapons, his wide receivers, and the offensive line did a surprisingly solid job of blocking for their signal-caller during those spurts of offensive competence.
With the field spread and the pressure on the secondary, that in turn could help the Steelers’ anemic running game find some footing as well. Felix Jones did a decent job of running out of the shotgun formation last week, and he could see more success if defenses are forced to take players out of the box to defend the pass.
I am not sure if the Steelers have much of a choice when it comes to incorporating more elements of the hurry-up and no-huddle offenses into their weekly game-plan. With Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell sidelined, this team’s best plan of attack must be through the air due to the weapons Roethlisberger has at his disposal.
If the offense wants to move the ball until both injured starters can return, they must do it via the pass. Gaining eight yards on three carries or two carries and an incompletion are both equally awful. Most of all though, the Steelers need to avoid scenarios in which they are behind the sticks so they can sustain drives into scoring position.
Pittsburgh’s best chance of putting pressure on opposing defenses lies with their Pro Bowl quarterback distributing the ball to his best players and creating confusion in the secondary. It does not involve Roethlisberger surrendering the ball to running backs on a consistent basis with inexperienced backups failing to open holes for them.
Although it’s not the “Steeler Football” some of you desperately want to see, would you rather not watch an offensive game plan tailored to the strength of the players?
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