There is one thing that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger loves to run and that\’s the no-huddle. Under former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Roethlisberger wasn\’t often given that ability, but under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, it appears he will.
Haley talked to the media Tuesday before practice to tell them his plans for not only the practice that lied ahead him, but for the season as well, in regard to the no-huddle. “To this point, today’s a big day,” said Haley. We have a lot of no huddle, running and passing out there today. So this will be a big day for us because whether it’s two-minute or true no huddle situations, it will be a big part of our offense one way or another.”
Not only will Roethlisberger get a chance to run the fast paced offense he often begged Arians to use, the plan is that he will also be able to call the plays in addition. “He’s shown the propensity to do that at a high level,” said the Steelers first-year offensive coordinator. “This is new to him, so we’re still working together on it. Ideally, if you have a quarterback like Roethlisberger and what he’s done, when he’s in full control, that’s a good situation to be in because he’s right in the middle of it, seeing what’s going on.”
When Arians was asked late last October if he had abandon using the no-huddle, he pointed to not having a comfort level in the offense to do it. That lack of a comfort level he claimed centered around the mess the Steelers had at the time on their offensive line due to injuries. Injuries that forced the Steelers to use six different starting line combinations up until that point of the season. “There have been a lot of interchanging pieces,” Arians said. “We\’re not as coherent as I\’d like to be with all 11 guys to run a lot of it, but we\’re capable of running it. And it may become a major force like it has in the past.”
Arians scoffed at the idea that the no-huddle was ditched because it took away play calling duties from him and he insisted that he trusted Roethlisberger to be able to handle such duties. “I have all the trust in the world in (Roethlisberger) calling the plays,” said Arians, who later added, “It\’s the other 10 guys in the huddle functioning properly at that speed. (Roethlisberger) can play that a whole lot faster than the other 10 guys. When I see everybody playing as fast as he does in the no-huddle, then I think we\’ll be more than ready.”
Unfortunately the injuries to the offensive line continued and thus the no-huddle was barely utilized moving forward. As a result, Arians never had that supposed comfort level and the offense never became a major force. By it not becoming a major force, it ultimately cost Arians his job.
Whether it was indeed a comfort level that Arians lacked or just plain fear of losing control of his play calling duties, Roethlisberger has shown in the past that he can indeed be productive in a no-huddle offense. Headed into 2011, the Steelers quarterback possessed a 67% completion ratio, based on my raw stats, and a 7.46 yards per attempt number. He also held a 94.1 career quarterback rating at that time in addition, while running the no-huddle. In 2011, be it injuries or something else, Roethlisberger posted a 55% completion ratio on 38 no-huddle pass attempts and a career season low 58.1 passing rating. During his career, Roethlisberger has also never attempted more than 41 no-huddle pass attempts in a regular season. Will he shatter that number in 2012? I am willing to bet he does, and perhaps even by the midway point of the season, if not sooner.
This season the Steelers figure to at some point have a more athletic offensive line. That of course depends on how quickly it takes for David DeCastro and Mike Adams to win the right guard and left tackle spots respectively. When that happens the offensive line would then include four players all drafted in the first two rounds over the course of the last three years. Willie Colon, who was kicked inside to left guard this past offseason, would be the old man of the group, but he has only played in one game over the last two seasons due to injuries. He appears healthy now and seems to have taken to his new position well. While this newly rebuilt line will likely lack cohesiveness at first, they should mold together as the season progresses. When you mix in a matured receiving group and a mature tight end in Heath Miller, it should become a well oiled machine.
Once cohesive, running more no-hurry should give the offense a chance to not let defenses substitute personnel as easy, which in turn tilts the tables in their favor. While there certainly are bugs left to be worked out, Haley thinks Roethlisberger likes the idea of being able to use it more moving forward. “I could tell through the spring that Ben’s got his arms around it and he likes it,” said Haley. “You can see his eyes light up a little bit when we get in that mode. That’s the sign of a great quarterback.”
Ben Roethlisberger Career No-huddle Passing Stats