Greg Bedard self-describes himself as the “Wet Blanket of Reason”, getting to the heart of matters without emotional bias, leaving behind only the facts and statistics as his guide.
Now writing for Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, Bedard has embarked on a new feature installment called “Settle This”, in which he takes questions from readers and attempts to explain the results we see.
One of the topics in the debut installment of this column was, unsurprisingly, about Ben Roethlisberger and the stellar run of games that he had during this recent homestand, most significantly encapsulated in the consecutive six-touchdown performances.
One reader asked in part, whether or not there has been some sort of change in the dynamic in the relationship Roethlisberger and his offensive coordinator, Todd Haley that can be attributed to these results.
That’s obviously a difficult question to answer without having access to the men involved in said relationship, but there’s no reason to believe that there’s been any kind of personal shift in how they relate to one another that would explain a different product on the field.
The other part of that question was about whether or not Haley has changed his play calling or philosophy, and that’s a much easier question to answer by looking at the tape.
Bedard believes this to be true, and for good reason, in comparing the Steelers’ two games against the Baltimore Ravens this season. He writes that Pittsburgh’s offensive mindset was much more minimalistic and shied away from misdirection in the last game in comparison to the Week Two 26-6 loss.
Another of his observations is the dropping of the no huddle, which the Steelers have hardly used in the past three games. They have also used more 12 personnel packages with Roethlisberger under center, while motioning more with the wide receivers to give the quarterback coverage indicators.
In Bedard’s words, “the Steelers decided at some point to quit screwing around just let Ben be Ben”.
That point was when they decided to get a novice receiver who’s high on talent involved in the offense.
Why do you think they scrapped the no huddle over the last three games since Martavis Bryant has been playing? Bryant’s success in the early part of his young career has largely been predicated on package plays that either take advantage of his height or speed or draw him into open space.
But dropping the no huddle is not insignificant, and it may even go back to the first part of the original question. Roethlisberger has also pleaded to run the no huddle, because he, in large part, calls his own game in the no huddle.
But Haley is the play caller, generally speaking, inside the huddle. So maybe it’s not Ben being allowed to be Ben, as Bedard suggests, but rather Ben allowing Todd to be Todd.
There’s no simple answer to this question, of course, and certainly not just one answer. Home field advantage is certainly a factor.
Roethlisberger’s accuracy and anticipation have been better, at least seemingly. He has at times been masterful in varying tempo, both before and after the snap, in keeping the pass rush at bay. Has something changed? Many things have changed. Now the question is, can it be sustained.