While the Pittsburgh Steelers winning preseason games is nice, it should never be forgotten that these are practice games with the biggest focus of them being on the evaluation of talent. Coaches do not get caught up in game planning very much, if any, for these games, but instead want to look at certain players in certain situations performing basic task required of them on both offense and defense.
In addition, coordinators do not want to tip their hands as to ways that they will attack or defend certain personnel groupings once the season gets started. Right now it is all about execution, especially in just the second preseason game.
On offense tonight against the Indianapolis Colts, the Steelers could work on situational football with their first team offense as it relates to the no-huddle and hurry-up with a disregard to personnel on defense that they will face. They want to accomplish what they want to accomplish to see certain players of their own in certain situations. Would it be surprising to see neither the no-huddle nor the hurry-up used tonight? Not at all, as that may or may not be the focus of Todd Haley tonight.
On defense, look for quite a bit more of the plain nickel that we saw last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. While many will speculate we could see some dime or big nickel type packages, that just doesn\’t fit what Dick LeBeau has traditionally done during the preseason. Instead, he usually likes to stick with base, nickel and goal-line groupings, as that is all the time they have had to prepare for during practices.
As I pointed out in my preview post, the most important, and in my opinion, the best thing to watch for outside of execution by players, is the rotation of how they are used in the game. This gives a real good idea of who is really where on both the offensive and defensive depth charts.
I also like to track formations on offense to see how much the fullback is used as opposed to single back looks. Is the fullback used in a weak or strong I-formation? How many tight ends or wide receivers are used each time? Who motions out of what spot to where? And what is the variety of both pass and run plays that they run out of these formations? These are the things that we chart all season long and the preseason as well. This, in my opinion, is what makes the preseason so worth watching both win or lose.