Sunday’s Game Likely To Include Bell In 4-Receiver Sets


One of the main storylines coming out of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season opener on Sunday was the sudden usage of the four-receiver set as a proactive piece of their gameplan, which is something that they did not even show at all during the preseason. Though it was not a great surprise, given their investment at the wide receiver position, there were no prior indications.

A subset within the discussion over the use of four wide receivers has been the fact that the Steelers utilized those targets out of the 01 personnel set, rather than 10, the former indicating the usage of a tight end as the fifth skill position, the latter indicating a running back.

Not that it is abnormal for a team to use a tight end rather than a running back with four wide receivers on the field. But when it is the Steelers, and the tight end is Jesse James, while the running back is Le’Veon Bell, there could be a penchant for raising some eyebrows.

Last season, the Steelers used the 01 personnel nine times the entire season. It was obviously not a staple of their offense. But all nine usages of that personnel package came during the first three games of the regular season, when Bell was suspended. During the postseason, they did not use it at all, but they did use the 10 package twice with Bell on the field out of an empty set.

Now, going back to the 2015 season, the Steelers did actually use the 01 package a total of 18 times between the regular season and the postseason. But, once again, every single instance of its usage came after Week Eight, when Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury. And on the contrary, they used the 10 package six times, though three of those snaps featured a back other than Bell.


What I’m trying to say is that I would not expect it to be the norm that the Steelers favor the 01 package over the 10 package, and I would expect Bell to see snaps on the field with four wide receivers as early as tomorrow at home against the Vikings.

Bell looked rusty as a receiving option this week—or perhaps more accurately he and the offense looked out of sync during the instances in which he was designed to get the ball, which resulted in three incompletions on six targets—but I would not anticipate that being a prolonged issue.

After all, he only had six days to prepare for the game after officially reporting and signing his contract. He will have literally had more than twice as long since rejoining his teammates by the time he takes the field tomorrow.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • ryan72384

    If I go 4 wide I’m having Martavis isolated on 1 side to draw safety attention. AB, JuJu and Bell on the other side in a bunch formation to try and create a mismatch on AB or Bell. Jessie chips and then goes out shallow as a saefty valve. Or Bell starts in the backfield and if Ben sees an opportunity to run he calls a run play if not then motion Bell out. Or keep Bell in at the snap so he can pass protect and then run a shalliw route. At least make the D think it could be a run. That would be my offense all day every day. Keep all your playmakers on the field at all times. Keep the defense spread out and never take your foot off the gas.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Their plan for running their 4 WR set didn’t make much sense to me using a TE. The one rule that should never be broken in offensive football is have your best players on the field at all times and pulling Bell for any TE just seemed counter productive. Glad to hear Bell will be included in the set.

  • VaDave

    We come out with a 4 wr set against the Vikes, the ball better be out in about 1.5 seconds. There will not be time for Bryant to get “college” open 30 yards downfield. No doubt you would see a lot of run routes, and dump offs to Bell.

  • Big Joe

    Well, that package should keep Minnesota in nickel and dime packages and limit safety or ILB play near the LoS since they’ll have to watch out for him going out into a pattern. We’ll see

  • LucasY59

    said something similar in the friday night 5, I think using 4 WRs and Bell would be more effective than a TE so 10 is better than 01, but I could also see them use 11 personel and move Bell so that he is lined up outside, whatever they do I expect to see more empty backfields and hopefully a more potent high scoring offense

  • AndreH

    Well he said he was worth 15 million a year (12 million as RB and 3 million for his receiving skills). Now it time to put up or shut up.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    that’s what I’ll do too I’ll have all types of trick plays nothing fancy just all my playmakers making plays but at different positions I’ll even have a 3 TE set with two on one side to run block and grimble on some type of go route and bell can either run or come out the back to catch