The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers make good use of their five-receiver package again against the New Orleans Saints?
The Saints are a team that opponents have not enjoyed to run the ball on this season. And because of New Orleans’ offense, many of them often end up abandoning it because they are so frequently forced to play from behind.
So there’s a reasonable chance that Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley don’t hit 20 carries again tomorrow, instead seeing Ben Roethlisberger throw the ball around 40 to 50 times—perhaps to show that he is a first-ballot Hall of Fame talent.
One package that the Steelers unexpectedly broke out last week against the New England Patriots was the 00 personnel grouping that consists of five wide receivers on the field at the same time. Pittsburgh has a history of introducing new wrinkles against the Patriots, but it also coincided with the activation of Eli Rogers and roster moves that make it easier for the team to dress all six receivers on the 53-man roster.
During the week, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner did warn against seeing the look very often because of the limitations that it presents, but this is still a team playing without its starting running back, and they are about to face the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, which could boost the odds of the five-receiver look being more prevalent than may be planned.
If JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn’t play, then obviously that virtually eliminates the possibility of them using the look, as it would require Darrius Heyward-Bey to be in there, and in such cases they would likely prefer to just use Vance McDonald, as they do in their four-receiver package that they have been featuring almost weekly since the opener.