Envisioning The Wildcat Package For The 2014 Season

Last season, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley surprised those not in the know when he broke out the wildcat formation with running back Le’Veon Bell a few games into his career, after he felt comfortable recovering from injury.

While they only ran it at most a handful of times per game, it was an interesting wrinkle that, if employed effectively, could be a good weapon for them this season.

The formation slowly died down as the season progressed, and in fact I can’t recall off hand if it was used at all in the last few games.

Yet I can’t help but think of the potential dimension the wildcat would bring to the offense with Dri Archer motioning behind the play as a running option.

After all, it’s already been accepted that the Steelers will be required to manufacture not only touches for Archer, but touches that help to put him in open space. I imagine the wildcat formation could be one of many ways that the team is looking to accomplish that.

Archer made a career out of his versatility in college, both on the ground and through the air, and in the variety of ways the team got the ball in his hands.

He once even threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to his quarterback on a trick play.

In order for this to be successful, there must be a concerted effort to make it work, which at times last season felt like it was lacking. It took a while for Haley to inject some variety into the formations that he used when he went to the wildcat.

Although it never resulted in an explosive play, however, it certainly has the potential to do so. Imagine these plays with Archer filling Antonio Brown’s role. Or perhaps both of them crossing each other in the backfield. Of course, it would also help imagining them if they were blocked more effectively.

In addition to surprise and variety, of course, execution is the other main facet of successfully employing this package, which was inconsistent a year ago.

The offensive line in particular must—and should—perform better, particularly in the open space runs out of the wildcat formation.

With Maurkice Pouncey returning, Mike Munchak installing outside zone techniques, and general development from many of the young offensive linemen, this shouldn’t be a major obstacle.

If the offense is able to put all these pieces together, the wildcat could be one of just several ways of getting their new weapon in position to make big plays, because Archer’s 4.2 speed would absolutely command attention, regardless of whether or not he’s actually handed the ball.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Paddy

    I hope you are right about the kid.


    Trick plays are exciting, but I long for the days where Sam Davis or Moon Mullins would tell the opponent’s defensive line exactly where they were going to run it and end up with 4 yards anyway. “Try to stop us.”

  • shawn

    I really hope our line continues to improve and Munchak gets the best out of them, because this kid has absolutely no hesitation going up the middle between tackles and blowing past creases … but that won’t work if there is no hole and he is met at the line of scrimmage with a “Thud” !

  • Aric Brown

    Bell, Blount, and Archer wildcat option = NASTY

  • srdan

    That would be awesome! But hte game has evolved.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Next we’ll see the Triple option! Imagine that. Can any of the WR’s or RB’s throw a decent pass to a wide open Receiver after a pitch or lateral? Imagine the possibilities! Holy crap!

  • Yiz

    The Le’Backfield can accomplish that.

  • Keshav Gupta

    I hate wildcat and trick plays. They often backfire on us. Good teams do not need to use trick plays only bad teams do. Moreover, why are we taking football away from Ben’s hands? Ben is our best offensive weapon. Wildcat and trick plays are stupid. Drafting Dri Archer over ll the good CB’s that were available was stupid too. Some of you may say teelers’ coaches know what they are doing. Most of the times they do but ometimes they may be guilty of groupthink. I have not seen trick plays work or Steelers consistently. To me trick plays are sign of weakness. I prefer Ben’s passing and smash mouth football.


    As long as Guy Le Whimper is on the sidelines.