Steelers Film Room: The Wildcat

By Alex Kozora

Throughout the rest of the offseason, we’ll examine specific plays from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 season. We won’t be focusing so much on individual play, though that inevitably comes with any breakdown, but instead, we will focus on concepts used in the pro game to show not just what happened, but why it happened.

This will be an X’s and O’s series focusing on both sides of the ball. The good and bad of the Steelers of last season.
Looking at their Wildcat offense today and the blocking scheme that comes along with it.

Personnel: Regular (2 RB, 1 TE)

Defense: Base 3-4

Result: Six yard gain by Le’Veon Bell 

The Wildcat, though markedly reduced from its resurgence a few seasons ago, is still in most team’s playbooks. The Steelers are no exception.

Although one might expect it to be complex scheme, it’s essentially just window dressing in Pittsburgh. Let’s break it down against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7.

From the aerial shot, we see Ben Roethlisberger motion out from his typical shotgun position to outside the numbers.



That’s clearly just window dressing, but it does widen the corner and briefly hold him to the outside.

With Le’Veon Bell doing his best Big Ben impression, he fakes a jet sweep to Antonio Brown. Odds are, there is no “read” for Bell. The intention is for him to carry it the whole time.

The blocking scheme is quite simple, only made unusual by the Steelers’ philosophy. Power O with David DeCastro pulling and Will Johnson acting as a lead blocker.

It’s was rare for the team to pull in 2013. Running to the left even rarer. But Power O? Staple scheme of  many NFL clubs, including the Steelers for approximately 40 years.

We’ll draw it up on the “chalkboard” (read: Microsoft Paint) and then on the tape below.



DeCastro and Johnson open up a big running lane for Bell, who runs for six, moving the chains on 3rd and 3.



The Wildcat may be perceived as a concept out of left field but take away that window dressing and the scheme is anything but.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • steeltown

    Love to see DeCastro and W.Johnson showing their skills. Two of my favorite current Steelers. I think W.Johnson has sort of been lost in the whole offseason storyline. He has crazy versatility.

  • Steelers12328882

    He got the 1st down, but looks like Bell could’ve cut to the right of W. Johnson’s block for a longer gain.

  • Johnny Loose

    thought the same thing. Here’s to an even better sophomore campaign with better vision. And I almost complained about the blocking from the left wideout till i remembered it was Ben lol

  • Johnny Loose

    you’re right. I guess with a FB no news is good news. We only hear about him when he makes a play

  • walter mason

    Valesco #61 also made a nice block but someone failed to block the CB that made the tackle.

  • steeltown


  • steeltown

    Yea, this is why I do not like this wildcat formation. I don’t want Ben out there blocking defensive players

  • walter mason

    Ben needs to practice his blocking techniques LOL

  • Jonas

    With his skill set, I wonder if he’s able to play TE/H-back, too?

  • Jonas

    With BB in the huddle and motioning to the outside, the offense is not driectly predictable. When Ben goes to the bench before the huddle, it’s waay to obvious..

  • Jonas

    Not shotgun positon but under center, isn’t it?

  • Steelers12328882

    Who know’s, Ben coulda dropped back into shotgun before splitting out wide. Hard to tell cause the gif cuts out the pre snap motion.

  • steeltown

    I don’t care. They can still run the play anyway they want, Gradkowski is capable. I don’t want our $100MIL QB throwing his body around in a wildcat formation

  • steeltown

    Maybe I just hate the wildcat, ha

  • Alex Kozora

    You’re right. Typo, my fault. He was under center.

  • Ahmad

    Same thing on my mind but he got the 1st so I’m not worried.

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    I agree. maybe the defense can better match the personal when Ben goes to the sideline but with an adequate blocker out there that play might go for another 20 or 30 yards and you don’t put Ben at risk.

  • Nathaniel Sullivan

    Although I agree with you guys, big ben should be out there. 1) unpredictable as once said 2) the wildcat is used as a run game so if it gains 4-6 yards, the first down is shorter away for big ben and the offense. 3) they could possibly swing it over to ben for a trick play.