Season Of Change – To Huddle Or Not To Huddle

After two straight seasons of equivalent wins and losses, it’s certainly no surprise that the front office of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been busier and more active than usual in their efforts to reshape a middling roster into a true competitor.

The past few months could be fairly described as a season of change amid the shifting fates of a franchise that had just been to the Super Bowl three times in the very recent past. It may well be that past success that has helped drag them down of late.

Of course, selecting late in the draft annually doesn’t help, nor do the big contracts going out to the players that helped you reach that success. But the true death knell has been an unwillingness to recognize when to let go.

The Steelers had hoped to hold together that championship core for a while longer, but the last two seasons have been the wake-up call necessary to introduce the wave of change that we’ve seen this offseason, designed to steer the organization back in the right direction.

Will this be the year that the no huddle is finally let loose at Ben Roethlisberger’s discretion? It’s only a false hope that the 11th-year veteran has been echoing for the majority of his career at this point.

By the time the regular season actually rolls along, there’s always a seemingly valid excuse to put that plan back on the back burner, where former offensive coordinators of said quarterback have preferred to keep it.

Roethlisberger’s current offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, allowed more liberal usage of the no huddle later in the season than perhaps at any other point in his career. But the team also faced a greater challenge than they’d ever seen.

The Steelers, of course, were in the midst of a disastrous season, edging in on a 2-6 start, when the no huddle began to show up more frequently.

While head coach Mike Tomlin was quick to place as many caveats as possible on the performance of the no huddle in post-game press conferences, it did prove to be an effective tool for the offense in stretches.

Many players and coaches this offseason seem to be saying the right things when it comes to using the no huddle more this season, but it’s a story that’s been repeated almost annually for what is probably close to a decade now.

The offense lost some significant pieces this year, including two of the team’s top three wide receivers from a year ago, which means that new pieces are being integrated into the offensive framework during the offseason.

Getting the receivers all on the right page is a big step toward being able to run the no huddle. That’s why the team has been running it earlier in the offseason than usual this year. That’s also partly why Roethlisberger brought his young receivers out for a throwing session earlier in the year.

But when the regular season comes, we’ll just have to wait and see when and how often the no huddle is actually used, because we already have enough evidence to suggest that saying and doing are two very different things when it comes to this topic.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Lil Smitty

    Ben has shown he is quite capable of running it. The no huddle even gives the O an advantage. If they only use it sparingly, I feel they would be playing into the opposition Defense’s strength, especially Cinci. The only reason I don’t see them using it is ego on Haley’s part; wanting to have complete control of the offense. After all, the talking heads on various programs say there is this tremendous tension between Haley and Ben.

  • Big White

    Let me tee this one up. Easy, when winning you huddle and pound with The Le’Backfield and when losing you let Ben spread them out and attack. Thank you.

  • Rob H

    It sounds simplistic, and it is, but you have to be balanced
    Score, time of the game, what the defense is doing, etc, etc
    The best offenses can do both and therefore be less predictable to the defense. Being one dimensional In either phase will get you beat by any of the good teams, especially come playoff time

  • charles

    Very disappointing.

  • charles

    No huddle is not new. It was shown to produce more errors by the O than the D. It has to be very well run. Oddly enough, what the Steelers are doing by starting early on it should help, Ben’s older and wiser mentality might, in combination, give him a chance to show the talking heads the he is HOF material.

  • richard

    I don’t see Haley as the problem when it comes to the no huddle, it seems that Tomlin has come out against it time and again. Haley has a history of knowing how to use the talent he has, there were bound to be some growing pains, but we saw a lot of improvement over the course of the season. Ben was definitely getting the ball out faster, which is what Haley likes to do. Quick reads and throws, then let the wide receivers get yards after the catch.

  • Dan

    I’ll make it even more simplistic. Do it, if and only if it works.