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First Half Of Saints Game Shows No-Huddle The New Normal

We are still knee-deep in going over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ preseason victory over the Saints. Many points of order have already been discussed, and there will be further analysis to come over the next couple of days. But there is one matter that I wanted to get to order that I was unable to, and that is to talk about the offense’s use of the no-huddle against the Saints in their ‘dress rehearsal’ performance.

Alex Kozora touched on this when he covered Ben Roethlisberger’s comments after the game during which he spoke about their use of the no-huddle in that game, and their intentions to use it further, but I wanted to talk about it while putting the numbers to it.

I finished charting the Steelers’ offense for the game last night, and one thing that was made very clear was that the team has every intention of using it frequently, perhaps very frequently—I won’t go so far as to say that they will use it as much as possible due to the limited sample size. But it will be a more significant part of the offense than it ever has been before.

Roethlisberger commanded the offense for 20 snaps against the Saints’ defense. The Steelers ran out of the no-huddle for 17 of those snaps—or literally every single opportunity in which they were able. The only three snaps in which they did not use the no huddle were the two plays that started drives and coming out of a timeout: snaps for which no-huddling is not an option.

What is interesting, however, is that the no-huddle did not stop when Roethlisberger left the field. In fact, throughout the duration of the first half, even with Landry Jones under center, the no-huddle was the mode of the day.

The offense under Jones saw 21 snaps in the first half, and they used the no-huddle on 12 of those snaps. If you take out the four snaps that began each of his four drives, including an end-of-half kneel down, and a play after a penalty, then we see that no-huddle used about 75 percent of the time.

This changed starkly in the second half, during which the offense did not use the no-huddle at all, even with Jones still in the game, but this is understandable when you consider that the first-team offensive line did not clear into the second half.

In 41 first-half offensive snaps with the starting offensive line, the Steelers utilized the no-huddle for 29 snaps, or just over 70 percent of the time. Leaving out beginning-of-drive-snaps, it is 29 of 35 snaps, or 83 percent of the full load.

Of course, it is reasonable to assume that they might have used it so extensively simply to work on it, as it is the preseason. But Roethlisberger certainly sounded like a player who fully intends to use the no-huddle as the norm, rather than the exception. And it’s hard to deny the results that we saw in the first half.

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