There was some apprehension from Ben Roethlisberger when the Pittsburgh Steelers did not retain offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Any concern should be out the window now, as Roethlisberger is learning the direction of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's offense.
One of Haley's strengths as a coordinator is designing an offense that plays to his players' strengths. One of Roethlisberger's biggest strengths is his ability to run the no-huddle offense and, according to Roethlisberger, via Pro Football Talk, that appears to be a focal point of the 2012 Steelers' offense.
I get a little confused at times because I know so much has been made about us quote-unquote throwing the ball too much, or we’re going back to Steeler football and running the ball more. But in these meetings I’ve had with coach Haley he’s all about the no-huddle, and using our wide receiver weapons, and throwing the ball, and stuff like that, so I’m still confused. I’m not sure what’s going to happen yet.
As much as some fans would like the Steelers to run the ball more, it is not how the team is designed and it is not how the NFL is geared these days.
Pittsburgh can run the ball more effectively, and it should be a point of emphasis in training camp, but the offense should be based on Roethlisberger's arm and his talented group of receiving options.
Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown form one of the youngest, most dangerous wide receiver duos in the league, and Emmanuel Sanders as a nice presence in the slot.
Jerricho Cotchery provides excellent depth as the fourth receiver, and he should see action in spread formations and in situational football, such as crucial third downs and red-zone opportunities, given his physical presence.
The Steelers may be able to use Heath Miller more in the passing game with a much improved line, given the addition of David DeCastro and the return of Willie Colon (or Mike Adams earning a starting job).
It could be argued that all five of these pass-catching options may be better than starting running back Isaac Redman, and that is no knock on Redman, but rather a testament as to how good the receivers are.
Redman is a physical runner, but he is not very dynamic and lacks big-play ability. He should do well as the starting running back, but he does not have the same talent of the injured Rashard Mendenhall.
More of a no-huddle may mean using less of Redman and more of a pass-catching back, such as fifth-round draft choice Chris Rainey.
Rainey is dangerous with the ball in his hands and may be one of the better options for the Steelers in a no-huddle offense. He can run or catch the ball out of the backfield, but would probably need to be paired with a blocking back who could help in pass protection.
While this is pure conjecture, it is exciting to think how the Steelers can get as many of their weapons on offense involved. But what can clearly be stated is that this style of offense appears to be a focal point this offseason according to Roethlisberger (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
Right now we're practicing the pass because it's more complicated. Steelers fans and coach Tomlin and the Rooneys apparently thought B.A. was throwing the ball too much. But yesterday in coach Haley's office, we were talking about using the no-huddle and throwing the ball and how much we have to use our weapons.
Roethlisberger said that the offense is 90 percent different and will be big adjustment, but will look similar for the fans. I hope he is wrong.
Haley has a plan in place to maximize the offense's production, and I hope that the results are evident. That would mean less predictable play-calling and better production in the red zone.
It would also mean running what the players are good at, and the no-huddle is a perfect example of this. Roethlisberger loves to run the no-huddle and is very good at it. If he can sustain this success and the no-huddle becomes a focal point for the Steelers' offense, they should be in for a very productive season.
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