It seems like a long time ago when the Pittsburgh Steelers were 0-4 and not even thinking about the postseason. Talks were generated around draft picks, the franchise quarterback’s future with the team, and an offense that seemingly couldn’t get out of its own way. There were ungodly amounts of turnovers in all shapes and sizes as well as some of the most mismanaged play-calling that has been seen in Pittsburgh in decades.
Then, the unexpected happened. The offense switched gears and became a primarily no huddle offense. It wasn’t that they were morphing into the Indianapolis Colts of the early 2000s when Peyton Manning worked the no huddle exclusively and with maniacal precision. No, the Steelers will use the no huddle for a good majority of a quarter or half and will still huddle on occasion if it is deemed necessary.
Some might ask the question, “why would going to a no huddle offense with a quarterback that has been to three Super Bowls and won two be unexpected?” The answer to that is twofold. The first is that for some reason previous coordinators and coaches never trusted Ben Roethlisberger to take the reigns and run an effective no huddle offense outside of the typical two minute drill. The other aspect of this would be why they never trusted Roethlisberger with that task of running this style of offense. Rumors have always swirled in regards to Roethlisberger’s work ethic off of the field and his study habits. Its well documented how Manning studies the NFL and knows the tendencies of the opponent almost as well as the opponent themselves, but that was never Roethlisberger’s game.
This season seems to be different as Roethlisberger has been making calls at the line of scrimmage that are based around what he sees the defense giving him and calling plays that he feels would work against that particular defense. That doesn’t mean that Todd Haley has lost his power as the offensive coordinator, but it does mean that he has trusted Roethlisberger more than any coordinator the Steelers’ play caller has had since his rookie season in 2004, and that says a lot for two individuals that reportedly hate one another.
The Steelers offense has been reaping the benefits of the no huddle offense as well. It was against the Detroit Lions in Week 11 that the Steelers went to the no huddle as their primary offense, and it resulted in 37 points and a victory. Even after everyone accountable said the no huddle is not an option for the entire season, the team stuck with it and the offense hasn’t scored less than 22 points since.
The Steelers have had to win some games where they literally outscored their opponent, and last Sunday’s victory against the Green Bay Packers was no different. The Steelers’ defense isn’t what it used to be, and it is having to rely on the offense to put up points to keep them in games and win their share of those contests. Switching from the standard offense and giving Ben Roethlisberger control in the no huddle hasn’t just sparked the offense this season — it has been the team’s saving grace as they try to claw their way into the playoffs.