Film Room: Haley Brings Back Old Friends For Big Plays

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense has rebounded over the past three weeks. Part of that is on execution, of course, but part of it is going back to basics. Running the football effectively, keeping possession of it, converting on third downs, and running the plays that have been the most successful under Todd Haley. The latter point is what we’re focusing on today. Haley called two common concepts the Steelers have run under his tenure. One was a success. The other should’ve been.

The first he called came on the game’s first play. The fake bubble screen, hitting the Y/slot down the seam. We’ve covered it many times. Here it is again.

Motion AB to the strength, fake the bubble to him, and the Detroit Lions all key in on #84. With the safety on the opposite hash, JuJu Smith-Schuster gets free down the right side and Ben Roethlisberger hits him, albeit underthrown pretty poorly.

We’ve seen this play in every year since Haley’s been around. Here it is last year to Ladarius Green for six against the New York Giants.

I like the timing of the call, too. Instead of running it later in the game after establishing the bubble, throw it early instead of throwing the bubble like everyone expects. Self-scout, realize how often you do it early in the game, and recognize the defense is going to feed into that. Really well done.

The second looked good on paper but in execution, it failed. It was the same route concept the Steelers used last week to get Smith-Schuster wide open. And the same they used for a Darrius Heyward-Bey score a year ago. Here it is from last week if you want the refresher.

This time, it’s DHB again. Three receciver set with the tight end isolated backside. That’s an alert for the concept. Bend #3 – DHB – across the field vs a single high safety. Clearout route and Roethlisberger looking off the FS helps hold him and no one carries DHB across the field.

Wide open. Again.

Too bad there wasn’t a completion. Certainly should’ve been. Rushed throw by Ben and DHB can’t make a play. Should’ve been six. But that isn’t Haley’s fault.

By and large, this offense should’ve put up well over 30 points. Haley had some questionable calls during the game (we’ll probably get to that with a long week ahead), that’s pretty much true of any game for any offensive coordinator, but this game isn’t on him. When the Steelers needed crucial plays, the OC delivered.

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