Elements Of Todd Haley Rosseta Stone Offense Coming Into Better Focus

Thanks to several player interviews, and great reporting by the Pittsburgh media during the first week of OTA\’s, we are starting to see certain elements of what the new Rosseta Stone offense that Todd Haley is implementing come into better focus. Along with that we have a much better grasp of what the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line will look like in addition. It is not like Haley is reinventing the wheel here, but below are several things I think we can look forward to after digesting several player comments and grasping the personnel on the roster.

Lots Of Power – 22-Double, 14-Straight, 34-Counter Pike and all of the old school power running plays we have seen for eons as Steelers fans are not going anywhere with Haley at the helm. With Willie Colon and David DeCastro presumable at the left and right guard spots respectively, you can bet both will be on the move quite a bit along with Maurkice Pouncey. Sure the verbiage might be different, but many of the basics in the running game throughout the NFL will never go away, especially if you have the personnel up front to block it.

More Pulling With Balance – This plays into the power concepts above. Colon has said look for both guards to be pulling this year and there is no reason not to believe him. The Steelers have predominantly been a right handed team over the years with Alan Faneca and Chris Kemoeatu being the primary pull guards from the left side. DeCastro is well versed pulling right to left and we should see much more balance with a lot of counter trapping to the left this year.

Run First – At least through the first four games the new offense will likely rely heavily on the run, especially on early downs as the line starts to gel. Give any lineman a choice of run blocking or pass blocking and he will tell you he wants to run block. Until the verbiage is mastered and Ben Roethlisberger is comfortable with his reads, check downs and where players should be on the field, this should be a run first offense, and that goes for the red zone as well, if you believe the comments made recently by Pouncey. Gradually this offense should shift to where it will be hard to tell if they are run or pass first by mid season.

Fullback/H-back Usage – We should see less two and three tight end sets on the line this year and more use of the fullback/h-back or move tight end if you will. The only accomplished blocking tight end on the roster is Heath Miller, and I suspect he will be allowed to release more than usual this year. David Johnson and Will Johnson are both attending the running back meetings and not the tight end meetings now. It looks good that one of them will stick. Haley won\’t nail the tight end to the ground most of the time this season, so expect quite a bit of tight end movement.

A Little Pony – While I do not think it will be used extensively, I suspect we will see some Pony, or Rocket groupings featuring two backs with Baron Batch or Chris Rainey in the backfield along with Isaac Redman. The possibilities with 20, 21 and even 22 personnel groupings are endless when you couple a power back like Redman with elusive backs like either Rainey or Batch. I can count on two hands how many times we have seen the pony backfield the last two seasons, even though Bruce Arians teased that it was always a possibility that he would use it.

Play Action – Roethlisberger has shown over the years how accurate of a passer he is when using play action and we have heard that it will be used more this season from more than one player in their talks with the media. If the ground game is established early on in games, play action is like having one extra player on the field. It can freeze everything and allow for some great one-on-one match-ups on the outside in addition.

Throwing To Backs More – This is another aspect of the Haley offense that more than one player has hinted to recently with Redman being the latest to talk about it. He, Rainey and Batch are all more than capable pass receivers and I fully expect Roethlisberger to check down to his backs more than he ever has in the past this season in an effort to take less hits.

Pocket Ben – Roethlisberger has hinted at this himself already. He will be asked to stay in the pocket more and not rely so much on extending the play like he has in the past. Look for him to make much quicker reads and get rid of the ball to his check-down this season. He will still take his shots down the field, but most of what he will do will rely on short deliberate routes that consist of rubs, comebacks, crosses and quick slants in an effort to get the ball to a receiver quickly.

Up-Tempo & Hurry-Up – While I do not expect it early on in the season, the up-tempo and hurry-up offense should get used more as the season wears on in an effort to catch defenses with the wrong personnel on the field. Roethlisberger has been wanting more of this for years, but he will have to earn the opportunity to use it with Haley by fully understanding the offense, and more importantly, show that he is able to communicate it quickly to his young offense, who also must have a good grasp as well. A younger and more athletic line should allow for more of this as well and it was a major reason Arians gave for not using that much the last few seasons.

There you go and just that simple, right? While it certainly looks simple on paper, executing it on the field will be a different story. Route trees and running plays do not change, but the personnel used to carry them out and the manner in which they are carried out do. Haley is known for building his offenses in the past around his personnel. He also has been known to use a lot more different personnel groupings than say Arians did. Every offensive coordinator will tell you they want to be as balanced as possible, but each and every game presents a different challenge. It is a good thing that there is not a lockout this year as it would be horrible to have to cram all of this new verbiage and multiple looks into just a training camp. That is what OTA sessions and mini-camp is for and where teams who change coordinators or systems benefit the most.

I am almost done compiling some stats and personnel groupings from the time Haley spent with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Arizona Cardinals and hope to be able to share those with you soon to help give us all a little better idea of what to expect out of the Rosetta Stone offense.

  • Bobby Bowers

    in theory, a pulling guard could be “gassed” by the 4th quarter if he’s not in shape.

  • Pat

    Excellent Dave.

  • Steel Hurtin

    Can’t wait to see what the new offense looks like. Arian’s play calling was always blatantly obvious over the years, with wide receiver screens, and delayed draws. I am excited to see a new “flavor” of offense, which would include not seeing Ben on his back side as much.

  • Kingmagyar

    Awesome! Seems tailor made for the personnel we have. One thing though is Ben and the Steelers will have to understand when Ben needs to stay in the system and when Ben needs to extend the play(his greatest strength). I think the time for Ben to be the old Ben is either early to get a lead or late to come back from a deficit. Too many times with a comfortable lead teams were able to come back on us because of Ben not taking the easy throw and trying for the big play resulting in turnovers. There will be that fine line he will have to walk.

  • PSUnGA

    i feel all warm and tingly in my body with the excitement of this new offense!!!

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    Great breakdown Dave. It’s gonna be interesting to see who ends up winning out the TE spots, now that we know Johnson is only a FB. Looking forward to a run heavy offense and the players are just gonna have to buckle down and get organized about this offense. Once they get it though it looks to be much more potent then what we had with BA. Haley is a talented coordinator and has a great roster to work with and develop

  • Cols714

    Sounds like any normal offence. Except for the FB how is this any different than Arians’ offense?

  • Kenneth Wilt

    It is articles like this which totally highlight for me why BA is no longer with this team.

    POWER – Yep this team the last few years has really been missing that. We sort of run a couple of obligatory running plays to keep a defense honest, but we only had one play we ran well. We would run it 3 straight times in the red zone. It always amazed me.

    PULLING BALANCE – Not sure BA had a lot of options here. Either the guys couldn’t do it, or he was too lazy to even try.

    RUN FIRST – Not sure I totally agree with this point. They need to put in 5, 10, or 15 plays at a time for both run and pass. The more he runs the plays, all of them the better he will get at them. Ben needs to learn the primary read first, then Haley can help him get into his progressions.

    FULLBACK – If we are truly going to use a fullback, and it appears we are, David Johnson will not make this team. Sorry dude, you did your best, but you aren’t a fullback. You just miss too many blocks for my liking.

    PONY – Not sure how often we are going to see this, but Haley has always been about using guys to their strengths. If Pony sets someone up to exploit a D weakness and one of our players strengths, he will use it.

    PLAY ACTION – Here’s a novel concept…right? BA and Ben always talked about how the used PA to pass, but they missed something in the concept. When Ben sees how effective it is to throw long AFTER you have really eaten a team up with the run…he will LOVE how much more effective the long ball to Wallace will be. Ummm, yeah, Wallace will love it to. He can pretty much beat the CB any time, but he always had that nasty safety sitting back there. He won’t once he bites on the running play. Just 2 seconds of pause puts Wallace 20 yards down the field, the safety will never catch back up.

    THROWING TO BACKS – This was one of my major complaints about our offense, the RBs were an afterthought in the running game. We didn’t throw it there with a plan, it was usually a safety valve. Let’s see you take 4 guys and run them all deep when the team is playing cover 2. The LBs have all dropped 15 yards off the line of scrimmage, and you have a guy like Mewelde Moore who should be able to scamper for 10 yards yet you never throw him the ball? Didn’t make any sense. You could get 8 yards any time you ran a play like this, but we never did.

    POCKET BEN – I’m not sure I buy into this yet. Yes, I do believe they want him to make his initial read, go through his possessions and then throw to the safety valve, but I always begged for BA to take advantage of Ben’s mobility. They need to include some designed roll out plays. Ben throws great on the move, we should be strategically taking advantage of that not just being happy when the play breaks down and he makes something work. I drool for the PA of a handoff running left with Ben spinning and rolling right as Heath runs an 8 yard crossing pattern on first down after having pounded the rock 3 straight plays.

    HURRY UP/UP TEMPO – This needs to be when Ben is ready AND when it is used strategically. BA never understood that if his O was struggling he may be able to gain something, some kind of knowledge by catching them off balance and going hurry up.

    I cannot WAIT to see this new offense, an offense built not on “this is what I want to run”, but built on, “this is what our guys do well”. Combine that with our new Oline and I am officially excited.

    Our projected starting offense ages:

    OLINE = 22/29/22/22/24
    QB = 30
    RB = 27 (24 if Mendy comes back)
    TE = 29
    WR = 23/25/25


  • Kenneth Wilt

    I don’t think they are telling Ben he can’t extend the play. I think HOW it is extended is going to be different, especially for him. Under BA, the Oline broke down or his first couple of reads were covered he started the freelance offense. Under Haley it will be controlled. Extend it if you can, but this is where your guys are going to be. Your WRs will run to X, Y, or Z spot. Your RBs will be here, dump it to them as soon as you can and let them make the play. It will probably mean less long throws when he scrambles around, but also will mean less time spent on his backside.

  • Jprankster2005

    I was thinking if both Johnson’s aren’t seeing any TE meetings……..Do u think while Saunders is out for his 4 game suspension, Pope will defentiely make the team….. Then after that I would see them hard to cut him because of the money after only 4 games…….

  • Jprankster2005

    Good Article…….

  • Jprankster2005

    More Running first of all……. U will see alot of different styles between the 2 and I believe once players and the other Offense players get it down, They will be one of the best Offense’s in football……. Add that with a number 1 or 2 defense, U got super bowls……And also less sacks Ben will take…….Equals less Injuries

  • Intropy

    Which seems like all the more reason to spread out the effort by having each pull.

  • Intropy

    Balanced run direction would be a change, but I think a lot of that is scheming for your personnel rather than because you like running only one way.

    Throwing to backs more sounds like a legitimate difference. I don’t know if it’s Arians or Mendy, but the Steelers have not thrown much to the backs these past several seasons.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    I’m expecting a heavy dose of Isaac Redman running between the tackles. With the combination of an upgraded interior line and Redman being hard to tackle, I expect to see him averaging around 5 yards per carry.

  • SteelerFan75

    one thing that i would love to see in the new offense is some BOOTLEGS. I understand Haley wants Ben to be in the pocket more, but ben is at his best when he makes plays and throws on the run so why not get him outside of the pocket by design?