The X's and O's of the Steelers Offense: Watch Ben Run, Watch Ben Throw
Coaches spend countless hours behind the scenes coming up with carefully developed offensive plans that intricately place players in the ideal situations to make a play.
The vision and intelligence that it takes to devise these plans requires some of the greatest football minds that our generation may ever know.
The X’s and O’s of football require time, patience and careful execution in order to achieve success on a level that surpasses that of their peers.
For all the time and effort that goes into devising these plans, it only takes one player to decimate the progress made by the entire unit.
If just one player is out of place it can throw off the balance of the entire structure of the play.
For Pittsburgh, however, there is one player that is constantly out of place in terms of doing what he is supposed to, and one can only assume that it is not by design from the way it looks…
…At least I think it’s not by design.
For all his triumphs as Pittsburghquarterback, Ben Roethlisberger never really seems to adhere to a plan.
It almost seems pointless at times to call in a play, because he has either watched too much Peyton Manning game footage, or…well…that’s all I can really come up with.
Granted it would be to obvious for him to walk up to the line and just tell the guys to go deep, but you have to wonder at times if that isn’t what he does in the huddle.
Opposing coaches looking to study offensive game film on the Steelers might as well go to a playground and watch some seventh graders run around.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they might as well throw out the playbook and just tell Ben to go play.
The Steelers most successful play last year was the same under center as it was out of the shotgun.
Someone go get open while Ben runs around in the pocket, and he will find you.
It was just as effective out of the shotgun.
Pittsburgh experienced great levels of success by throwing deep post routes to Nate Washington, he had a reception of near 50-yards in three straight games, as well as hitting the tight end over the middle.
Pittsburgh’s running game was not as successful as it had been in recent seasons, but the underneath crossing route (five to six yards), drag route (six to eight yards) and naked over route (12-15 yards) to Santonio Holmes was a huge success as it allowed him to generate a lot of yards after the catch.
But Pittsburgh’s most successful plays were on broken plays where Ben generated offense based on the sole ability he has to keep plays alive with his legs.
A sub-par offensive line caused Ben to use his legs more often than he would have liked, but it was out desperation that Pittsburgh generated the biggest moments of the season.
It started early in the year during the Steelers first encounter with the Baltimore Ravens.
Harassed and sacked for most of the night, Roethlisberger was able to continually able to avoid sacks late and convert short screen passes into big gains.
His penchant for big plays based on his survivability serves as not only a motivator on offense, but a spark for the defense.
After hitting Santonio Holmes for a 38-yard touchdown pass up the middle, after avoiding a rush, Lamar Woodley returned a fumble for a touchdown only seconds later.
This would just be the first of many black and gold headaches for the Ravens.
The next week in Jacksonville, Roethlisberger helped lead the Steelers to their first win over the Jaguars since 2004.
Pressured and scrambling again, Roethlisberger managed to lead the Steelers on a winning score late into the fourth quarter. His ability to continually avoid the pressure allowed his receivers to get open as he marched them down the field for the winning score which came on a fade pass to Hines Ward with just under two minutes remaining.
Five weeks later in week 11, Pittsburgh managed to outlast the San Diego Charges 11-10, the first final of that score in NFL history, on the shoulders of Ben’s ability to generate just enough offense to keep the field position in Pittsburgh’s favor.
In week 14 against Dallas Ben managed to avoid the rush of a bigger Cowboys defensive unit, which was constantly breathing down his neck, and find open receivers while barely escaping with his life.
It wasn’t pretty, but nothing Ben does ever is.
No quarterback outside of Indianapolismay understand how to manage a game better than Roethlisberger.
When considering the circumstances and the time on the clock, Ben continually finds ways to seemingly will his team down the field.
The very next week in Baltimore, with the division title on the line, Ben further put his stamp on the Steelers season in the closing moments of the fourth quarter.
After running back and forth, from hash mark to hash mark, Roethlisberger finally found Santonio Holmes at the goal line for the winning score.
After 15-20 seconds seemingly went by, someone finally managed to get open, and Ben threaded the needle.
For many qb’s in the NFL, they would have went down with a sack in the face of Ray Lewis bearing down on them, but not Ben.
His knack for keeping the play alive allowed time for Santonio to get open and make a play.
It wouldn’t be the last time either.
The highlights of Super Bowl XLIII are a testament to Ben’s abilities to keep a play alive.
So many times Ben could be seen running around outside the pocket trying to keep a play alive, and so many times it worked.
Pittsburghwon their sixth Lombardi Trophy, the most of an franchise, on the ability of Ben Roethlisberger to keep a play alive.
He did it in the first, second, third and fourth quarters.
When Pittsburgh needed a first down, Ben could be found running around trying to make it happen.
Roethlisberger knows how to win, and that is something you can’t teach. He is a situational quarterback that comes up with the play when his team needs it most.
When Pittsburghneeded key first downs in Super Bowl XLIII, Ben could be found outside the pocket making them happen.
As he progresses and matures as a quarterback, his skills and decision making will improve as well. What Ben does so well though, is keep plays alive with his legs and give his receivers time to make plays.
“Go get open and I’ll find you.”
Maybe it is that simple.
For the Steelers, they might as well throw the playbook out. What works for them is staying out of Ben’s way.
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