Watch: Haley’s Scheme Doesn’t Do Roethlisberger Any Favors In Loss To Jags


Back at it to talk to the tape as we do every Thursday. As I’m sure you’d expect, focus is back on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense and the issues they faced in Sunday’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Much has been made of Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles. So instead of harping on that, though concerns are certainly valid, I wanted to look at the bigger picture. In this video, we highlight some of the scheme issues with the Steelers’ route combinations and how several times Sunday, they didn’t do Roethlisberger any favors.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Check out our friend Six Rings Of Steel over on Youtube. He’s as big a Steelers’ fan as they come and makes awesome videos. You can also follow him on Twitter here. 


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.
  • StolenUpVotes

    Haven’t watched the video yet, but I was talking to a close friend of mine who works for NFL films about this topic after the game. I am in season so I haven’t been able to rewatch the games yet, but I asked him what he was seeing. His response was that it certainly isn’t all Ben in his opinion. He felt that play calling and design weren’t helping much and guys outside of AB are struggling to get open consistently for Ben. Now granted this guy was my QB in college so he could be a little bias for QBs while watching film lol

  • falconsaftey43

    I don’t know if I agree on the first play. Motioning AB across pulled the safety over there, and his vertical route kept him there. Puts McDonald one on one (yes with Ramsey) but with pretty much that entire half the field to defend. McDonald does win on this route and gets inside of him. I don’t think it’s a high % play, but it’s a vertical shot, and one I think works well if Ben isn’t pressured.

  • falconsaftey43

    Second one I agree, JuJu and James all pretty much end up in the same place. Something I’ve noticed recently is a lot of drags/crossers guys aren’t sitting down vs zone. Seen everyone do it, even AB. Any idea why? Traditionally those are run vs man, sit vs zone routes.

  • falconsaftey43

    I like the 3rd one vs cover 3 (which they got), with the corner/deep out with flat/crosser underneath. Yeah, there isn’t a rub or anything, but it creates a high-low stretch on the outside, hank in the middle. It’s good spacing IMO. You’re right that it’s asking the outside WRs to win one-on-one vs the CBs, but isn’t that a matchup we should like? 1st down, CBs with no safety help over the top and we’re running deep out/comeback. Without pressure, both those guys are open.

  • falconsaftey43

    Now the 4th one, I agree. I don’t like the call here because it’s 3rd down. You’re getting the same cover 3 look, but CB much more likely to sit on the route anticipating a throw to the sticks on 3rd down with the CB playing off like that.

  • falconsaftey43

    Redzone double move to AB on 3rd down was terrible. Hate everything about that. I do like the idea of giving to Nix in a scenario like that… similar to the creative stuff they’ve done in KC with Poe and the general concept of being unpredictable in the redzone. Make the defense second guess what’s coming down there, all you need is a half a false step by the defender to get 2 yards, so yeah, run a shotgun draw to Nix sometime.

  • falconsaftey43

    3rd n 17 3 verticals isn’t great. Although, not sure what the call should be there. Would be nice to try to work the safety with a dig in there too. But 3 verticals vs cover 3? Don’t like.

  • falconsaftey43

    Last one, same thing. Don’t care for the 3 verticals. Watching this made me think, when was the last time we ran a Y over route? Bootleg or not, get the 3 level stretch to one side of the field.

    Thanks for the breakdown, love these Alex.

  • John Pennington

    Great video and it shows Ben had no chance to win this game.Steelers a new OC someone who can bring more to the offense someone with vision and who can think outside the box.To many weapons not being used to take advantage of what the other team is showing.Right now the Steelers are playing into the other teams plan not their own and every team will do the same thing to the Steelers until they figure this out.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I dislike getting cute on 3rd and short. If you can keep the drive alive, get the first down and move on. Going deep on 2nd and short or 1st and 10, sure. But make their defense be the ones to get you off the field. Don’t do their jobs for them by throwing the ball 40 yards when all you need is 4 to keep moving.

  • srdan

    If we want to run these concepts ben has to throw these guys open. Timing has to be there.

  • Black Gold

    Very good analysis. If you are playing an elite secondary, it should be apparent that you need to run concepts which aim to “scheme guys open instead of hoping they get open (as you stated).” This is especially true when the run game isn’t effective, as the defense will be expecting pass. Pinning your hopes on your man beating theirs in obvious pass situations, when theirs are some of the best in the game, can be attributed either to laziness, obtuseness, or arrogance on the part of the OC (unless Ben kept checking out of better plays and into the ones we saw). But even more troubling is the fact that as the game evolved, we saw no attempt to correct the problem, even though it was apparent for all to see.

  • TroymanianDevil

    It’s a lot of things, I think you’re title is spot on, the scheme didn’t do Ben any favors, but I see bad throws and bad decisions here a lot too.

    I think having guys 1 on 1 is a good thing. I’ll take AB 1on1 every single play. I’ll take Martavis 1on1 in 90% of situations. For AB it’s when he gets bracketed and Ben still forces it that’s a problem.

    First play. Concept is fine (every once in a while at least, to keep defenses guessing ). A better throw gets a big play here. Also highlights the need for a TE.

    Second play is exactly right. I hate everything about it. Scheme mostly, but even execution some. Almost half the field ends up empty. WHY WHY WHY. And on execution, someone could’ve sat down somewhere to get open, instead 3 guys all keep running and end up in the same area. 90% scheme, 10% executino

    Third one – scheme is fine with me. Spacing is my biggest thing with Haley, but this one is fine. Execution is what gets me more on this. Why are the outs run so far beyond the sticks. That plays into their off coverage. Run them to the sticks. Martavis has pitch and catch on his side if he cuts 4 yards shorter. That’ll force tighter coverage, which plays into our desire to go deep, especially with Martavis

    Goal line play – Just all sorts of garbage. Tried something new I guess ( optimistic spin on it ) . Clearly didn’t work. Don’t ever run this again from the 2.

    3rd and 17. 100% agree. Difficult ask obviously but the scheme is so basic and PREDICTABLE. WHY. The only difference between this play and what Madden would’ve recommended is that Madden would said 4 verticals instead of the 3 verticals here. Run something like a deep crosser underneath AB and that guy as a good chance at getting open. Or AB isn’t triple covered. Both scenarios are better than what we saw here.

    Last play – same thing, 100% agree. Nothing here to stress the defense. All vertical, no concepts. NOTHING. This is Madden-level playcalling here.

    Overall take from this. First, good job Alex.
    I see so many vertical routes run. Makes sense why Ben has been taking so many shots. These concepts ( or lack of ) seem like bad game planning or bad adjusting or just laziness. 1 on 1 matchups are good and will be needed to win games. I’ll take 1on1 matchups. But relying on them isn’t the right approach. Combine that with scheme and the offense can get to the levels we know they can achieve. That and a more balanced approach, but I think we’ve beaten that with a stick enough times

  • PaeperCup

    I don’t know if McDonald was open open, but with a perfectly placed ball it could have been a positive gain. The pressure on that play prevented that, and Ben threw it behind McD. Thing is even with a terrible throw, Ramsey still had to make an extended diving catch. Vance must have had some sort of separation.

    On ABs motion, seeing Ramsey didn’t follow him (not sure if it was ever planned that he should shadow him), I’m surprised there wasn’t a mismatch spotted out there. If they ran a flood on that side someone might have been open. But that play was designed to go to McD apparently

  • PaeperCup

    I remember mentioning it before this game, that the WRs just never seem to be open. As we always seem to drift, I compared it to the Patriots who for some reason will have 3 guys open without a defender within 5 yards of them. Our WRs have to fight to get open.

  • Alex Kozora

    Even if you’re ok with the motion, which is fine, it’s not really my biggest gripe, I still don’t think you like the matchup. And it goes back into the idea of leaving guys on an island and hope that they go make a play. Because so far, AB aside, no one has.

  • Alex Kozora

    I’m not sure about that assessment. I think most of the time, guys are doing what they’re supposed to do.

    EDIT: Sometimes if a guy knows he has a lot of space, he’ll keep moving. Some coaches teach that because a moving target is better to hit than a stationary one.

  • Alex Kozora

    I really showed the third one to show the fourth one. And how the mirroring the routes isn’t the most effective things. Should be more combination looks instead.

  • Alex Kozora

    Right, obviously, it’s a low percentage play. But throw something horizontal into the concept. Stress someone, anyone. The guys in coverage are just dropping and matching. That’s too easy. Force a safety to make a choice.

  • Alex Kozora

    Appreciate all the feedback, falcon.

  • Alex Kozora

    Of course. It’s not all on anyone. I wanted to make sure I was clear about that before diving in.

  • Shane Mitchell

    They seemed to run a lot of plays as if they expected more man coverages with crossing routes, and the Jags did a good job of disguising coverage between man and zone presnap.. Even when Ben gets a read on the coverage presnap, he is still prone to be stubborn and try to beat a coverage with a less than ideal playcall. The 2nd and 10 pass to AB is a perfect example, they have bracket coverage on AB, its not a surprise to anyone including the defense on where that ball was going to be thrown on that play. Look at the other side of the field on that play and how they basically knew that half of the field wasnt going to be an option Ben would consider on the play, they didnt even waste energy running with the other 2 WRs deep.

  • Alex Kozora

    That’s what it sounded like from Jesse James. Good gameplan by Jacksonville, poor one from Pittsburgh, leads to a game like this.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    He should have been fired 5 years ago.

  • Intense Camel

    FIRE HALEY

  • SilverSteel

    And U haven’t seen him do that in quite some time. Good observation

  • Thomas

    Great video, this illustrates what I complain about constantly. We never seem to be making the defenses think very hard about what we’re doing schematically.

    The safeties for Jacksonville must have been laughing at us that whole game.

    You’re right about certain concepts that work really well for other teams never being in our playbook. I would like to see more Zig routes by WRs with various routes overtop.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing some deep crossing concepts too. We need to start stressing the other team’s safeties, specially if they stack the box.

    If Bell is really one of the best receiving backs in the league, why have we seemingly NEVER run any wheel routes? I see about 3-5 every Pats game.,..

    lets throw the kitchen sink at some people, We have a veteran team & QB. We should be one of the most complex offenses in the league. There really is no excuse not to.

  • TroymanianDevil

    No doubt. I hope that’s not how it came across, I was in agreement with you on that. I was merely just prefacing my own opinions with that statement ( Didn’t want to be clumped with either the “FIRE HALEY” group or Haley apologist group b/c I’m in neither group )

  • Dubb Betts

    At this point I think Haley is starting to sour the players. We’ve seen good coordinators make average players good. I think this horrible oc is affecting the effort of some of the players

  • nutty32

    Pretty sure the receivers are also supposed to read the coverage and adjust accordingly mid pattern (sit in a dead spot v. zone, keep running through v. man). Seems like JJSS is the only guy doing that properly in the provided clips, but who knows what the playbook actually says.
    Those verticals are actually open too, but Ben’s just making poor throws for a top level NFL QB.

  • Rick Tilves

    HALEY is BAD ! Ben is better off calling his own Plays !!!

  • Michael Conrad

    I think the timing is off. The practice time is not used right and to be honest Ben needs to look at the video . No pressure on the one play if he waits another second JJSS is going to be open.

    This is just a total breakdown of play design and players running their route and coasting at times and not finding the open area in a zone . Receivers to close together. Man plays against a zone . Running or passing into the side of the field with the most defenders. Snapping the ball on the same count and poor blocking.

    This is a team has embraced Tomlins take the preseason off mentality to the max. They have not played well in any game. It will take days of coaching in the classroom and on field to correct all the problems.

    On the one play if Bell goes to his right he has no one within 10 yards. The players are sleep walking from Ben to Decastro to MB to Bell.

    When a teams starts saying the other team is good as the reason they can’t compete or lose. Its over. This team lacks pride in the execution and desiring to succeed. They are a lazy bunch.

    To be honest Tomlin needs to get after James and Decastro. Hubbard was said to be a good fill in but he and Decastro have stunk as a team.

    I think Tomlin azz could be on the line if this team folds losing to KC and the Bungles. Could it get worse.

    They are what they are not very good right now.

    I believe coaching is starting to become a issue. I see things these players should know and do automatically but its like they have not been shown what to do.

  • MC

    Jesse James came out and said they’re playing into the defences hands. He wants them to be less predictable. If a mid teir player like James says it you know something is up. I hear all this harping on about execution, yes a lot of it is that but when the defense knows what you’re gonna do and where to be to stop it, its kinda hard to execute a good play in that instance don’t ya think?

    Ben has made some bad decisions and forced throws he should of, he’s also made the wrong read but I think the gameplan needs to keep the defense more on their heels than what Haley provides. I see other teams around the league straight tricking defenders with play action, bootlegs and miss directions with shovel passes. No creativity in any play call from Haley against the Jags.