Roeth­lis­berger hopes for more no-huddle

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Sports - By Ray Fit­ti­paldo Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette Ray Fit­ti­paldo: rfit­ti­ and Twit­ter @ray­fitt1.

The Steel­ers were most suc­cess­ful as an of­fense against the In­di­anapo­lis Colts when they ran the no­hud­dle. They ran eight plays from the no-huddle and gained 65 yards, in­clud­ing 51 yards on con­sec­u­tive pass­ing plays to Mar­tavis Bryant and An­to­nio Brown with less than a minute to play that set up the win­ning field goal.

Overall, they av­er­aged 8.1 yards per play from the no­hud­dle while the 54 plays when­they hud­dled av­er­aged 4.6 yards per play.

It’s not a well-kept se­cret quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger would like to run more no-huddle, and if his words Tues­day morn­ing are any indi­ca­tion, it might be a big part of the game plan Thurs­day night at Heinz Field against the Ten­nessee Ti­tans.

Be­cause of the short work week, game-plan­ning is con­densed, and Roeth­lis­berger said op­er­at­ing from the no­hud­dle sim­pli­fies things for the of­fense.

“It’s ac­tu­ally eas­ier be­cause that’s some­thing that’s been in since day one,” Roeth­lis­berger said. “So rather than in­stall a bunch of new plays you go with what you know and have been do­ing for a long time.”

With the of­fense plod­ding along with unin­spir­ing re­sults for the first nine game, one of the most pop­u­lar top­ics for arm­chair of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors is the no-huddle. The Steel­ers en­ter the game against the Ti­tans 19th in the NFL in scor­ing (20.8 points per game) and 18th in rush­ing (106.6 yards per game).

The of­fense overall (358.4 yards per game) and the pass­ing of­fense (251.9 yards per game) are 10th overall. But with scor­ing the big­gest is­sue, es­pe­cially in the red zone, why not try to jump­start the of­fense with some­thing that has proven suc­cess­ful in the past?

The Steel­ers have op­er­ated well out of the no-huddle in pre­vi­ous sea­sons, but they haven’t gone to it very much this sea­son. Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Ha­ley said last week that the Steel­ers were a “game plan” team and also men­tioned the first eight op­po­nents weren’t nec­es­sar­ily ideal teams to use the no-huddle against.

But in the lim­ited snaps the Steel­ers have run in the no-huddle this sea­son his play­ers say they have no­ticed a dif­fer­ence.

“Once we get on a roll down­field, I think when Ben calls his plays, he knows the de­fense and knows what to ex­pect,” rookie re­ceiver JuJu Smith-Schus­ter said. “I don’t mind when he has the ball in his hands.”

One of the is­sues early in the sea­son was Smith-Schus­ter’s and new tight end Vance McDon­ald’s in­ex­pe­ri­ence with the no-huddle. Smith-Schus­ter learned in the spring and train­ing camp, but McDon­ald ar­rived just be­fore the start of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Roeth­lis­berger said any wor­ries about their readi­ness to op­er­ate out of the no­hud­dle are gone now.

“Those are the guys you have the big­gest ques­tions about, but I haven’t seen one iota of doubt or ques­tion from them,” Roeth­lis­berger said.

The big­gest dif­fer­ence for the play­ers when the Steel­ers do op­er­ate the no-huddle is the way the play call is dis­sem­i­nated. In­stead of get­ting the play by mouth in the huddle they rely on hand sig­nals from Roeth­lis­berger.

“For me, yeah it’s a lot dif­fer­ent,” Smith-Schus­ter said. “In col­lege, all I had was [hand] sig­nals. I’ve re­ally fo­cused on learn­ing the plays from Big Ben and hear­ing the play calls. It’s a lot dif­fer­ent for me be­cause I’m play­ing all types of po­si­tions. But it makes the game more fun.”

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