Arthur Smith could steal a page from a forgotten playbook for Justin Fields

Justin Fields doesn't need to rot on the bench if Arthur Smith is willing to take a page from this former Steelers coach.
Nov 26, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith on the sideline against
Nov 26, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith on the sideline against / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after the Steelers traded for Justin Fields, there was much chatter everywhere about his tremendous athleticism and how his talent meshes with the needs of the Steelers. Then, in some circles, people brought up the fact that with Fields' speed and his athleticism, they could use him in tandem with Russell Wilson on various plays.

Steelers sports writer Bob Labriola, when asked about it in his Steelers column Asked and Answered, which fans can view at, shot down the notions of Fields and Wilson being on the field simultaneously as unlikely. 

It may be unlikely, but it's not unheard of. Playing multiple positions was common in the early era of the NFL, and as players specialized, that era of football ended. However, sometimes players come in on gadget plays, and the Saints have used Taysom Hill as a quarterback, running back, and tight end.
The most famous example in the modern era is none other than the original Slash, Kordell Stewart, who played with the Steelers starting in 1995.

A 2nd round draft choice in 1995, he remained relatively obscure until week ten when the Steelers played the Bears in Chicago. Although he had played the previous week against Jacksonville, his breakout game came the following week in Chicago.

Stewart caught a 27-yard reception thrown by Neil O'Donnell on a drive that culminated in a touchdown. The play was huge as the game ended with the Steelers finally winning the game in overtime. The following day, all the media wanted to discuss was" Slash" Stewart.

To this day, he still holds several records with the Steelers and in the NFL. Most notably, he was the first player in the NFL to have 20 touchdown passes and 10 touchdown rushes. He is the only player in the NFL with at least 75 touchdown passes, 35 touchdown rushes, and five touchdown receptions. Plus, he is still the Steelers' leader with 11 touchdown rushes in a season.

How does this relate to Justin Fields and the Steelers? Well, the Steelers had an impressive offensive coordinator, Ron Ehrhardt, who realized how he could utilize Stewart. Perhaps Arthur Smith, the new Steelers Offensive Coordinator, might want to look at a few pages of Ron Ehrhardt's 1995 playbook.

How Arthur Smith could utilize Justin Fields talent

First, no one is saying Fields could or would be the next multi-positional player. But you can't deny his speed and playmaking ability. He's talented enough that it might be worthwhile to see what options he has to utilize Fields' talent in the way Ron Erhardt did with Kordell Stewart, but on a lesser scale.

Having Fields out there with Russell Wilson could lead to some interesting possibilities, especially on a run-pass option where Wilson tosses to Fields for a rush, and then Fields passes.

Another option is to sit Wilson for play and bring Fields as the quarterback to direct the snap to another player who tosses it to Fields on a short-yardage play or something of that nature. Arthur Smith could potentially catch a team napping, and a big play could happen should he craft a play like that, and they hold onto it until needed.

The worst that could happen is a busted play. However, the offensive coordinator gets the credit when a play like that gets called and works. Smith could walk away looking like a genius.

Will this be something Smith does, or better, is it something Mike Tomlin might suggest to Smith so they can keep it in their bag of tricks? While it may not happen, if it does, it could bring back, if only for a season, some sandlot football to the NFL and the Steelers.

At the end of the season in 1995, the Steelers played in a Superbowl thanks to creative play calling. He should closely examine his options with Fields and take a few notes from Erhardt’s playbook.