Steelers offensive scheme is failing Ben Roethlisberger in his waning years

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7).
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7). /

The Steelers scheme on offense is not only failing Ben Roethlisberger but is failing the rest of the team

When Matt Canada was promoted to offensive coordinator before the start of the 2021 season, I knew there would be some changes made from the previous scheme to Canada’s scheme, but I assumed, rather incorrectly, that Ben Roethlisberger would be the focal point or at least have some say in the offensive scheme.

I could not have been more wrong.  The reason I assumed that a franchise and future Hall of Fame QB would have been the focal point of the offense is this:  When you have a QB the caliber of Roethlisberger, a QB who has brought two Lombardi Trophies to Pittsburgh, and if you’re a first-year offensive coordinator, you lean on the experience of said QB.

Instead of leaning on ‘Big Ben’ and tailoring the offensive scheme to accentuate his strengths and instead of designing plays that he prefers and with which he is comfortable, Canada, and by extension Mike Tomlin, have installed a scheme that is feckless and unimaginative.

The Steelers offensive scheme is lifeless and uninspiring

As much as I understand and appreciate that there are ‘growing pains’ that accompany any new scheme, whether it be on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, at some point you have to realize that what you’re calling is not working, that your play designs are not having the desired results and that some players may need to be replaced.

Obviously, I don’t know whether or not these discussions are being had, but, if they are not, they need to be had. The one discussion that needs to be had is this one:  How do we alter the offensive scheme to allow ‘Big Ben’ to do what he does best?

Although ‘Big Ben‘ is a little ‘long in the tooth’, he still gives us the best option to not only win games but to make a run in the playoffs; however, that will not come to fruition if the Steelers insist on continuing to deploy this college-style offense.

Pre-snap motion is great, ‘jet sweeps’ are great, and ‘bubble screens’ are great; however, the aforementioned aren’t great if they don’t gain any yards or don’t lead to a ‘big play’.  Something else that is not great with the current offensive scheme is the passing game.

The Steelers passing game lacks creativity.  I cannot remember an offensive scheme that did not employ a ‘middle, high, low’ concept.  Since ‘Big Ben’ became the starting QB in 2004, he has generally had a scheme where the route concept consisted of a ‘shallow’, a ‘mid’ and a deep route, either a ‘go’ route or a ‘post’ route.

All we have in the current scheme are generally ‘curls’, ‘outs’, and ‘go’ routes.  Obviously, I don’t have access to the playbook, but that’s what I see when I watch Steelers games. How are those routes accentuating the strengths of ‘Big Ben’?  How are those route concepts going to consistently ‘take the top off’ opposing defenses?

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If the Steelers don’t alter the offensive scheme, we will find ourselves watching the playoffs from the comfort of our living rooms.  If the 2021 season is the ‘last hurrah’ for ‘Big Ben’, which I hope it is not, it will have been a result of an offensive scheme that failed him and failed the Steelers.