At age 32, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is no neophyte. He knows it, and he feels it, both the good and the bad.
He knows that some of his natural physical attributes are beginning to deteriorate, which is why he’s committed more than ever this offseason to ensure that his physical training regimen and diet are up to par.
Earlier this offseason, new Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore talked about how different Roethlisberger’s ball is compared to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, with whom the veteran receiver played up until this year.
He talked about how surprised he was by the velocity on Roethlisberger’s passes, but apparently it’s not just the new receivers that are taking notice of his delivery this offseason.
“My arm is stronger than it’s been in my career, I believe”, he told reporters earlier today. “Even in [OTAs] and minicamp the receivers said, ‘Ben, that ball is getting to us a lot quicker, with a lot more spin on it, it feels real good’. That should translate into better play”.
With age, Roethlisberger has gained the wisdom and experience to understand what he needs to do in order to maintain excellent physical performance. And he’s also gained the wisdom to know when he’s being duped.
Which is why I take his word this year that the Steelers coaching staff finally intends to make the no huddle a true and significant part of the offense, something that the coaching staff appears to have led him to believe frequently through the years.
This year, however, Roethlisberger brought with him the tangible evidence to state his case for the no huddle when he discussed the future of the offense with the coaching staff, because the Steelers turned to it out of desperation mid-season a year ago, and it produced some encouraging results:
The no-huddle was always in but it was always sitting back here on the back burner—keep it warm for week five or six or whenever we needed it, if we needed it.
I said, ‘Guys, the way the season ended last year, to me, our best offense is the no-huddle’. I still understand we have to run the ball, we have to bring in three tight ends, you have to have short yardage. But when we were at our best, we were in the no-huddle.
This needs to be an integral part of our offense, maybe not our base offense but it needs to be something that’s not just sitting on the back burner.
The coaches had a hard time arguing against the 6-2 finish to their 8-8 season a year ago. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has been rewriting the no huddle chapter in the play book this offseason, making it more versatile so that it could be run out of a wider variety of looks. They’ve brought in or are stretching out players who can be matchup problems due to their versatility coming out of the no huddle.
And the team has been running the no huddle more frequently as well, having already done so a fair bit during spring practices. This is what the veteran quarterback has wanted for years, and it was Haley that helped make it happen. After all, what are friends for?