Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has never been bashful about his preference toward usage of the no-huddle offense over the years. He loves to run it, and has both publicly and private hinted at or campaigned for its greater usage. Under new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he expects that to happen this year.
When asked if he believes that the no-huddle will be a bigger part of the offense in 2018, he said that it would be “for sure”, and that it “makes me study more, meet with Randy more, doing all that stuff, even more than in the past, which is fine. I always did a lot of stuff, but if they’re going to put that trust in me, then I have to then reward them with the knowledge that I’m going to do the right thing, call the right plays”.
I’m sure that that remark is going to be taken a certain way by the segment of the fanbase that, frankly, always takes Roethlisberger’s comments a certain way, but I think it’s a reasonable response within human nature that, when given more responsibility that you seek, you feel more compelled to push even harder than you did previously.
He also seemed to pretty clearly express the differences in his relationship with Fichtner in comparison to the one that he had with Todd Haley, the Steelers’ previous offensive coordinator over the past six seasons. He will be on the opposite sideline in the season opener with the Cleveland Browns—while Bruce Arians helps call the game from the booth.
Roethlisberger made reference to a conversation that he had with Fichtner in which the novice coordinator asked him what he wanted to hear from the voice in his ear, rather than telling him what Fichtner thought he ought to know.
“What I don’t want you to do is to yell out ‘Don’t forget about this, don’t forget about the post on this play.’ Human nature, we’re going to look there”, Roethlisberger said. He went on to say that he would like his coordinator to point out game situations and remind him of tendencies—both of his own and of his opponents—relevant to those scenarios so that he could either take advantage of or avoid them.
While it hasn’t ever really been publicly stated, it has always been assumed that the decision to move on from Haley after six productive seasons (the Steelers put up four of their six highest-scoring seasons in team history in that span) was primarily about the coordinator-quarterback relationship, and that Roethlisberger believed he would have a strong working relationship with Fichtner, his quarterbacks coach.
Fichtner is very evidently much more amenable to working with Roethlisberger in building this offense, making minor adjustments that give the quarterback more input but before and during the game. An introduction of more no-huddle usage would be a major signifier of that.