The Pittsburgh Steelers may still pass more than they run the ball, the offense still feels as though it has been more balanced than it has in recent years. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has done of good job of varying personnel packages and being multiple from those packages, in addition to playing a variety of players throughout the game, if the circumstances allow it.
In the last game against the Atlanta Falcons, for example, the Steelers opened in the 13 personnel with tight ends Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, and Will Johnson all on the field. On first down, they split out five wide and completed a pass for nine yards. The same personnel stayed on the field to convert on short yardage.
After connecting with Antonio Brown again for another first down out of a more traditional run look with the tight ends up against the line, the Steelers finally, on the fourth play of the drive, used the counter power running play to the left that was so successful a week earlier against the Cincinnati Bengals.
This time, however, it wasn’t so successful, as the Falcons had one extra defender than the Steelers could block, and Le’Veon Bell was bottled up after a gain of just one. Brown was sthe single receiver in this formation early in the game, but Martavis Bryant was used as the lone receiver later on.
Outside of Brown, the Steelers also seem to have settled on a rotation among the next three players on the depth chart, with Markus Wheaton, the starter opposite Brown, receiving the most playing time.
Bryant has seen his share of playing time, however, and had a solid game against the Falcons that included two nice catches that showed off good body control and burst. He also had the presence of mind to turn around and throw a block on a pass to the running back.
Behind Wheaton ad Bryant, the veteran Lance Moore continues to be involved, as he saw close to the same amount of playing time as did Bryant, playing over 20 snaps. Moore was targeted twice in this game, both times down the field, but both times, Ben Roethlisberger was just a bit off target.
Due to the fact that the running game was not garnering the success that they had in the previous week, the Steelers did not rely quite as much on tight end-heavy personnel packages as the game wore on, but Spaeth, for example, still saw about the same amount of playing time as Bryant and Moore. Michael Palmer even saw a couple of snaps, while Johnson played 16 snaps, mostly as a run blocker.
The three constants among the skill position players, however, are of course Bell, Brown, and Miller, who rarely ever come off the field. Between the three of them, they only missed six snaps combined. When you have a stable core of players such as that, it’s safer to mix and match around them.